Throughout a year dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic and an increased focus on systemic racism, members of the Financial Services Roundtable for Supplier Diversity, or FSRSD, committed billions of dollars to promote the economic recovery of diverse businesses and communities.
FSRSD started in 2001 as the Financial Services Industry Group within the National Minority Supplier Development Council Inc. with a focus on advancing the inclusion and development of minority business enterprises in financial services companies. Over time, the group expanded its mission to include advancing other diverse businesses including Women-, Veteran-, Disabled- and LGBTQ-owned businesses, as well as small business enterprises.
“The majority of the member companies’ supplier diversity programs included these businesses, so by expanding the focus, the members were able to share best practices and leverage key learnings among the group for their own individual programs,” said Lissa J. Miller, FSRSD board chair.
As the group’s mission expanded, it decided to declare its independence from NMSDC and organize as a stand-alone 501(c)(6) nonprofit organization, incorporated and rebranded as the Financial Services Roundtable for Supplier Diversity in 2012. In 2019, NMSDC declared FSRSD the preeminent organization of knowledge on financial services for its corporate members. That partnership between NMSDC and FSRSD continues to grow each year.
“Our member companies’ programs are still very much focused on expanding opportunities to MBEs and measure their progress accordingly, but as part of FSRSD, they can also benchmark and share best practices that are inclusive of other diverse business types,” said Miller, who is also senior vice president and head of supplier diversity for Truist Financial Corp.
FSRSD members include top commercial and federal banks, insurance companies and diversified financial companies with a U.S. presence. For a complete list of members, visit fsrsd.org and click on “Members” under the “About Us” tab.
The organization helps advance the inclusion of diverse businesses within the financial services industry through benchmarking, sharing best practices, supplier introductions and referrals, development of industry-specific requirements, networking opportunities and educational programming. The group also awards at least two executive education scholarships each year to allow senior leaders of certified diverse-owned companies to attend business development programs provided by Dartmouth College’s Amos Tuck School of Business; University of California, Los Angeles’ Anderson School of Management; or University of Washington’s Michael G. Foster School of Business.
Meeting 2020 challenges
Even during the pandemic, many FSRSD members were able to sustain and even expand their outreach to diverse suppliers, Miller said. According to FSRSD’s 2020 Annual Review, the average Tier I diverse spend increased 47%.
The disproportionate impact of the pandemic on minority businesses combined with a renewed focus on combating systemic racism led many FSRSD members to renew their commitment to the economic recovery of diverse businesses through programs and initiatives targeting housing inequality, higher education, career development, capacity-building and other investments, she said.
Over the last year, FSRSD members invested in scholarships and other educational opportunities, neighborhood revitalization efforts and affordable housing programs for underserved populations. Many revised payment terms for small and diverse suppliers, as well as increased access to capital for businesses owned by people of color, women and veterans.
“Systemic racism has always been an issue,” Miller said. “That’s something that the supplier diversity programs and professionals of our member companies have been working to eliminate every day. Now that the pandemic has clearly shown where those disparities are and how minority-owned and other diverse businesses have been substantially impacted, our member companies are stepping up and taking action.”
As financial services institutions looked for ways to address systemic racism, several FSRSD members moved millions of dollars to minority depository institutions, or MDIs.
“As several of these same member companies have also developed long-term strategic plans to counteract the effect racism has had on our nation, we’re hopeful that these efforts will continue and Black-owned banks will see future investment and attention,” Miller said.
She said she believes the increased focus on diversity and equity programs within many businesses will bring increased interest in the mission of FSRSD.
“With more and more financial services companies launching and/or advancing their supplier diversity programs, FSRSD is one of the leading organizations where these companies can really see the value of becoming an active participant,” Miller said. “We all share a common goal of strengthening our supplier diversity programs, which ultimately helps us to increase the spend with — and development of — MBEs and other diverse businesses within our supply chains. What we do is very impactful to our economy and communities.”
To see the 2020 FSRSD Annual Review, go to fsrsd.org and click on “Annual Review” under the “About Us” tab.
To learn more about the FSRSD, visit fsrsd.org.