The ‘Colored entrance’ to White-owned businesses

00-haroldalfordFor the most part, corporate America employees are satisfied with their careers. There is usually a chart to review in terms of responsibility. Is the employee moving up the “ladder” and heading towards more executive responsibility? That is correlated with salary.

The greater the responsibility, the greater the pay and the less tolerance for any era or bad judgment. If one reaches as far up the ladder as he or she can, then they will ultimately seek new employment that offers more opportunity or capitulate to the end of their improvement and sit there until retirement.

There are many divisions within a major corporation. Engineering, Manufacturing, Logistics, Marketing, Sales, Legal, IT, Human Resources, Procurement, Research/Development, Security and Maintenance are some of the major divisions.

Each of these divisions is usually managed by a vice president, director, chairman or president.

They report to the President/CEO or Chairman/CEO.

Maze of divisions
Somewhere in this maze of divisions is a particular occupation sometimes known as Manager of Minority Procurement or Diversity Procurement or some other form that reflects on a minority procurement program that the company alleges it has.

It’s the colored entrance while White-owned firms head to the procurement division where the real deals are done.

A lot of these corporations will demand that you, a Black person, should go through that colored door and never approach the main door.

Big stigma
One of our members formed an engineering consulting company made up of two homegrown Blacks, an African and a Caribbean. The four of them developed a great staff and started winning a lot of contracts at this one particular Fortune 10 corporation.

Eventually, members of the corporation suggested that they get certified as a minority business.

They said they would rather not as they were winning contracts in a straight up competitive way. Then the corporation demanded it. So they did and by doing so they now had to go through that colored door. Predictably, their business started drying up and within a year they were out of business.

There is a big stigma placed on certified minorities within the majority of major corporations. And, by the way, a corporation having a Black CEO has so far made no difference in the attitude of minority procurement.

Harry C. Alford is the co-founder, president/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce®. Website: Email:



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