Delta Seeks Partnerships With Black-Owned Businesses

The pandemic has presented unique challenges for everyone but black-owned businesses have been hit extremely hard.

In fact, over 41% of business closures since the start of the pandemic have been Black-owned, despite Black companies making up less than 3% of total companies in the nation, according to a recent University of California study.

For context, around 17% of white-owned businesses have been forced to permanently close during the same period.

So what is the connection with the travel industry?


Several months ago, we saw several large corporations jump on the “blackout Tuesday” bandwagon and even make statements that say “we support black lives,” but their track record has been iffy at best.

However, Delta CEO Ed Bastian, has made countless initiatives and commitments to support black-owned businesses with a big push to further diversify the Atlanta-based airline’s supply chain.

Last week, Delta leaders and their Supplier Diversity & Inclusion team headlined this year’s National Minority Supplier Development Council Conference (NMSDC) and Business Opportunity Exchange.

The conference, which was held virtually, presented an opportunity for diverse business owners, entrepreneurs and suppliers to gain access to America’s most influential corporations by joining their dynamic community and supplier network.

Mike Medeiros, vice president of the recently created Global Cleanliness division says it’s within Delta’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic that the airline believes it is ripe for partnership with black-owned businesses.

Medeiros and his department are, specifically, seeking out minority-owned businesses to develop a world-class cleanliness standard.

“We need your ideas, your creativity, your entrepreneurial spirit,” Medeiros told suppliers at the virtual NMSDC conference.

The new partnerships will require bids from minority-owned companies but Bastian says Delta will have “doubled its spend with black-owned businesses” by 2025.


For what it is worth Delta has had a Supplier Diversity & Inclusion program for more than 20 years, but Delta is stepping up to the plate and actively seeking partnerships with black-owned business.

We all know a lot of Black business owners don’t have the kind of equity (read lack access to bank credit) and have less of a cushion, making it harder to survive financial emergencies like pandemics. Additionally, profit margins are razor thin and owners’ financial savings are often meager, making them vulnerable to sudden changes in the market (but that’s a different blog).

Regardless, Delta is seeking to decrease these hurdles by requesting minority-owned businesses partner with them.

Do you know any black-owned businesses, particularly in supply chain, that Delta could benefit from? Please forward them this article.

Important Note: Delta recently launched an enhanced supplier registration portal and locator system to help grow its base of small and diverse-owned suppliers. However, the link does not work. In other words, a lot of people gave up at that point. Personally, I would recommend you get your Linked-In profiles together, do a simple Google search and personally reach out to…

Mike Medeiros
Vice President – Global Cleanliness
Delta Air Lines, Inc.

Kimberly Coffman
Manager of Supplier Diversity & Inclusion
Delta Air Lines, Inc.

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