Despite black-owned businesses making up just 3 per cent of companies in the United States, a University of California study has shown that they’ve accounted for 41 per cent of total business closures since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In comparison, around 17 per cent of white-owned businesses have been forced shutter for good during the same period.
The reasons for the disparity are varied, including the fact that many black-owned businesses lack access to credit and because many of these businesses are micro-entities with smaller financial savings to see them through the crisis.
Some observers believe the “demise of so many black-owned businesses this year also highlights the legacy of racism in America”. But even as the pandemic devastates its own business, Delta Air Lines is hoping to build a recovery strategy that lifts up black-owned businesses according to chief executive Ed Bastian.
Bastian recently laid out three commitments to support black-owned businesses with a big push to further diversify the Atlanta-based airline’s supply chain. By 2025, Bastian says Delta will have doubled its spend with black-owned businesses.
New supplier partnerships will also require bids from minority-owned companies, while the airline says it will introduce a micro-entity program to help build up smaller businesses.
And it’s in Delta’s CareStandard response to the COVID-19 pandemic that the airline believes is ripe for partnership with black-owned businesses. Mike Medeiros, vice president of the recently created Global Cleanliness division says his department is specifically seeking out minority-owned businesses to develop a world-class cleanliness standard.
“We need your ideas, your creativity, your entrepreneurial spirit,” Medeiros told suppliers at a virtual conference of the National Minority Supplier Development Council.
“The innovation and resilience that minority-owned businesses bring to the table make you the optimal partners for Delta to build a key area of our business around,” Medeiros continued.
It’s probably worth mentioning that this strategy isn’t something new. In fact, Delta has had a Supplier Diversity & Inclusion program for over 20 years. And make no mistake, Delta stands to gain from this strategy. As Medeiros explained: “Supporting diverse suppliers isn’t just our social responsibility; it’s a smart business strategy that drives results.”
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.