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We are African American women business owners. When soliciting new customers, generally financial institutions, is it appropriate to inform them that we are black? My business partner thinks it sends the wrong message. What’s the savvy solution?
— S. Parker, Newark, NJ
Many black entrepreneurs are facing similar situations: whether to leverage their minority status in a multicultural economy, or let the quality of their work be the driving force in attracting new customers. In some cases, promoting yourself as a black-owned business makes sense if, for example, a financial institution is seeking qualified black-owned vendors as part of its diversity efforts.
I asked a few BLACK ENTERPRISE editors to weigh in on your question. Here’s what my colleagues have to say:
“Financial firms are first going to be interested in the level and quality of your service,” says Careers Editor Sonia Alleyne, who points out there are other ways you can divulge your minority status, including your marketing materials.
News Editor Nicole Marie Richardson agrees: “If black ownership is something that’s important to clients, the information should be readily available, but it shouldn’t define who you are.”
Consumer Affairs Editor Tanisha A. Sykes adds, “If your business is in an industry where minority and woman-owned businesses are offered top-tier contracts, there’s nothing wrong with taking advantage of your company’s unique position.”