This fall, MIT jobs became a member of the Black Economic Council of Massachusetts (BECMA), a state-wide organization based in Boston that works to improve the economic well-being of Black businesses, organizations, and individuals in the Commonwealth.
As highlighted in President Reif’s July 1, 2020 letter to the community on addressing systemic racism, the Office of the Vice President for Finance (VPF) and the Office of Government and Community Relations (OGCR) jointly pursued membership in BECMA as part of an effort to increase MIT’s purchasing and contracting with minority-owned businesses.
“We want to build relationships with a wide range of suppliers to meet the needs of the MIT community, and Black and other minority-owned businesses have much to offer in this respect,” says Glen Shor, executive vice president and treasurer jobs “Working closely with BECMA leadership, we embrace the opportunity to have a broad-based impact in promoting the prosperity of the Boston area — our larger community — and the Commonwealth.”
BECMA was founded in 2015 by Boston-area business leaders in response to the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s “Color of Wealth in Boston” report, which revealed that the median net worth of a Black family in Boston is $8.00, while the median net worth of a white family is $247,500. The report was a call to action for BECMA’s leaders, who address and close the racial wealth gap in two ways: advocating for racial equity in public policy and providing technical assistance to its business members.
On the policy side, Paul Parravano, co-director of OGCR, is teaming up with Samuel Gebru, BECMA’s director of policy and public affairs. The latter developed the organization’s 2021–2022 Massachusetts Black Economic Policy Agenda.
“We welcome this opportunity to work closely with BECMA leadership to advance real change and possibilities for Black families and businesses to build a stronger Commonwealth,” Parravano says. “BECMA has provided a meaningful roadmap around key policy issues. We look to this agenda for new ways to work collaboratively in addressing issues of racial inequity.” Working together, they hope to address areas of opportunity in economic development, education, transportation, and employment.
“Membership in BECMA will enhance MIT’s position to move toward a more just and equitable economy in the Boston area, while also increasing opportunities for our campus purchasers to buy from Black and other minority-owned businesses,” says Christina Lo, VPF director of strategic sourcing and contracts.
Lo is working with Emma Homstad, VPF program coordinator for MIT’s Small and Diverse Business Program, and Nicole Obi MCP ’95, SM ’95, BECMA’s vice president of member experience and engagement, to create a thoughtful and deliberate plan for increasing Institute purchasing from minority-owned businesses. This effort is more than simply loading a list of diverse suppliers into MIT’s procurement system.
“We’re both at an inflection point in our journeys,” notes Homstad. “BECMA is charged to address the racial wealth gap. They are determining how to engage anchor institutions in the Boston area that spend a significant amount of money locally. MIT addresses President Reif’s charge to grow to purchase with Black-owned businesses and addresses our strategic DEI priorities. We want to move our Small and Diverse Business Program into a more community-responsive direction.”
Homstad represented MIT at BECMA’s annual Mass. In November, Black Expo met with Black business owners and entrepreneurs and learned about the goods and services they offer.
“We’re working together to strategize how to bring diverse suppliers to MIT and bring more MIT purchasing opportunities to them,” Lo says. “We’re starting with an intentional and mutual listening and learning process. Our goal is to bring forth tangible business opportunities with Black business owners that serve the range of purchasing needs at MIT.”
Source: MIT News