By Ashley Benkarski
NASHVILLE, TN — Women of color are more likely than their white counterparts to start their own business, but receive less access to funding, data shows.
JPMorgan Chase and Company’s Head of Business Partner Diversity, Ted Archer, said diversity on both sides of the supply chain should be a major focus for industries going forward.
“Women-owned businesses are not only businesses that tend to hire in diverse communities but to hire other women, and who are also the fastest-growing segment of entrepreneurs that we have in our country,” Archer said.
The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) held its annual conference March 20-23 in Nashville, helping connect women entrepreneurs with their peers, supplier diversity professionals, bankers and bigger corporations that could leverage resources to help them grow and sustain their businesses, such as JPMorgan Chase. Archer was in Music City to represent his firm at the conference.
“JPMorgan Chase has had a supplier diversity program and has done this work for over 30 years, and so we feel really great about what supplier diversity means to us and the next evolution of it,” he said.
JPMorgan Chase is a sponsor of WBENC’s Women of Color Program, a series of sessions crafted to “create an effective and successful business ecosystem designed to engage, advise and drive the growth of women of color women-owned businesses,” the WBENC site reads.
According to census.gov, though women-owned businesses have been on the rise for years, “the average annual earnings of employees of women-owned firms lag behind the national earnings average of the workers of all firms: $38,238 in average annual payroll per employee compared with $54,114 . . . In 2018, women-owned firms earned an average of $1.6 million in sales, shipments or revenue; male-owned firms earnings were double that at $3.2 million.”
And women of color business owners have been resilient, starting businesses before, during and after the pandemic. The key, Archer said, is sustaining that momentum.
Archer sees supplier diversity as a force for good, he said, explaining that increasing representation of diverse businesses and their supply chains makes a direct impact on local communities. His firm has been committed to investing time and resources into helping women (and, notably, women of color) entrepreneurs on both sides of the supply chain; just last year, the firm embarked on a global five-year initiative to commit $350 million to women entrepreneurs of color through new policy solutions, low-cost loans and equity investments, and philanthropy.
“Supplier diversity really is a gateway for companies like JPMorgan Chase to expand on its work in the community and expand on its work with creating inclusive growth,” Archer said. To that end, the firm has committed millions more to Black and Latino firms and challenged their large suppliers to commit to supplier diversity programs as well. Archer said JP Morgan Chase is well on its way to meeting its goals. “This is the beginning of a journey for us to go as deep as we can leveraging our 30 years’ background in advancing supplier diversity.”
That journey includes being strategic about where a company decides to do business, which is why JPMorgan Chase has been so successful in growing its portfolio, Archer said. Further, he relayed the firm is committed to removing barriers to entry when it comes to working with larger companies and being “corporate ready:” having a secure cyber network is an expensive but necessary undertaking that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Archer said that JPMorgan Chase partners with Local Initiatives Support Corporation to create a utility for growing businesses to ease that burden.
“Supplier diversity really is a holistic way for us to use our entire firm, bring the full force of it,” Archer said. “We know that it’s not just about any one company or any one individual; we need to do that in the context of an ecosystem and in the context of an industry movement, and we’re looking for ways to do that time and again.”
For more information on JPMorgan Chase’s commitment to racial equity visit https://www.jpmorganchase.com/impact/racialequity/minority-owned-businesses. For more information on WBENC and its Women of Color Program, visit https://www.wbenc.org/programs. Find Local Initiatives Support Corporation at https://www.lisc.org/.