(L) Charleston, SC Mayor John Tecklenburg, (R) BidLAN CEO Richard Souffrant
It takes a village to build a meaningful and robust supplier diversity space. That includes everyone, from the production floor employees to the C-suite executives. Our taking ownership of core values like diversity and inclusion promotes healthy competition and ultimately economic growth for all.
Honestly though, whether or not an organization builds and supports an effective supplier diversity program rests largely on the shoulders of top-level decision makers, board members and executives. Their choices set the standard for employees and the market place as a whole.
That is why the team here at BidLAN is very optimistic about Charleston’s future. You see, the city’s mayor, John Tecklenburg, has pledged to improve the quality of life for all of its citizens by supporting supplier diversity, tech, and education.
BidLAN’s CEO, Richard Souffrant, had the privilege of attending his inauguration earlier this year. He shared his thoughts on the experience with us.
BidLAN blog: How do you know Mr. Tecklenburg?
Richard: When he was running for mayor, I advertised for him and attended many of his campaign events.
Also, during his campaign, I held what I like to call “Talks with Tecks” (although Mr. Tecklenburg has quite adopted this terminology…yet). These were house parties that allowed people to come together, in an intimate setting, and learn about Mr. Tecklenburg’s position on different issues and vision for the city.
For me, those events were like catching up with an old friend. I have known John for about 6-years.
BidLAN blog: What about the inauguration had the biggest impact on you?
Richard: There are two things I distinctly remember about the inauguration.
First, the changes the mayor wants to make in Charleston, namely, investing in the city’s tech space. He wants that to be a big part of Charleston’s future.
The second thing isn’t necessarily what he said but what he did. When I looked at the demographics of the inauguration crowd, the diversity spoke volumes. Everyone was equally represented. The number of black attendees to white attendees was almost split down the middle.
I don’t think any other candidate would have had that type of demographic. You can tell Mr. Tecklenburg truly believes in diversity. Even the speakers at his event were diverse. That says a lot about what he is trying to build, a more diverse Charleston.
BidLAN blog: Why did those two things stand out to you?
Richard: Because I believe that the joy Charleston brings to visitors everyday, is the same joy locals should have the opportunity to experience. To enable that, we must build a strong jobs infrastructure. And bringing tech to Charleston would do a lot to create that environment.
If you build it, they will come. We already have a diverse landscape of people in this city. North Charleston alone is almost 50% African American. If the locals see that tech is a thriving and profitable industry, more students will major in tech. We would also be able to attract more talent to our city.
BidLAN blog: How has attending this event impacted your mission to create opportunities and access for minorities and underrepresented groups?
Richard: I saw so much diversity at the inauguration, a symbol of John Tecklenburg’s commitment to diversity. Because of that, I feel more empowered as an advocate for supplier diversity in the contracting space. I feel even more invigorated to be as vocal as possible about diversity because I know that my mayor will be behind me…Now, we can start righting the wrongs of the past.
BidLAN blog: Any final words?
Richard: I want people to know that beta will be here soon. And with everyone’s support, we can make the supplier diversity space better.
We here at BidLAN are very optimistic about the future of supplier diversity and the pivotal role technology will play in bringing this industry into the 21st century. To those working hard on the front-lines with us we say, “Continue! You are doing more good than you will ever know.”