The Cleveland Cavaliers joined CommitCLE as an inaugural member, since then strategizing on how to achieve the initiative’s diversity goals. While the pandemic has delayed this work, Kevin Clayton, Cavs vice president of diversity, inclusion and engagement, is considering vendor shows where CommitCLE attendees – the Cavaliers among them – are directly linked. to minority companies in the supply chain.
With access to capital being a major barrier for MBEs, initiative members can also leverage relationships with banks and other financial institutions, providing owners with a window to funding they previously did not have.
“Then we can be an advocate for small business, adopting businesses for lead supply,” Clayton said. “We can also share best practices and ways to collaborate from a purchasing perspective. “
A structured DE&I approach relies on growing alongside the MBE vendor community rather than one-off opportunities, Clayton adds. A former entrepreneur himself, Clayton joined the Cavaliers in April 2019 to lead the franchise’s new DE&I department. Since 2015, the Cavaliers have grown their MBE portfolio from 42 vendors with $ 1.3 million in spend to 55 with $ 3.4 million in spend.
Through this work, Clayton cements an inclusive corporate culture that encompasses the support of underserved business owners. Cognac distiller Hennessey recently partnered with the NBA as part of a campaign to support MBEs, building on its “Unfinished Business” that the brand launched in 2020. Although it is not not directly related to CommitCLE, the Hennessy effort may serve as a model for the Cavaliers to elevate its minority vendor platform, Clayton notes.
Supplier diversity will be further highlighted early next year when the franchise hosts the NBA All-Star Weekend, with the league expanding opportunities for Cleveland-based minority businesses excited to provide goods and services in critical product areas.
“The challenge will always be to keep this job in mind,” said Clayton. “The focus on DE&I helps our business, helps other businesses and helps the community. It’s the right thing to do, but it’s not just that. It’s about how we can help businesses to grow. “