For immediate release: April 16, 2014
Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rainbow PUSH Black Supplier Delegation
Report Outcomes of Auto Trade Mission To Japan
Trade Mission Establishes Primary Trade Relationships with U.S. Black Suppliers
Chicago, IL -- Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition led a 13-person delegation to visit leading automotive companies in Japan, last week. The delegation met with corporate leaders of Toyota, Nissan and Honda at their Japan headquarters, with the goal of building primary trade and business relationships with these automotive companies. In addition, the trade mission established a significant Japanese network for African- American suppliers through Rainbow PUSH Coalition relationships.
“The trade mission successfully provided unprecedented access and opportunity to African American businesses with Toyota, Honda and Nissan,” said Rev. Jesse Jackson, president and founder, Rainbow PUSH Coalition. “We are excited about the opportunity to create mutually beneficial, two-way trade. More importantly, the executive leadership in Japan and North America are receptive to expanding their supplier base with minority suppliers. ”
Delegation members commented on their trip experience. John Henderson, CEO of AEL Span LLC, which provides a variety of global supply chain services, said, “This was a high impact series of meetings with top C-Suite executives of Toyota, Honda and Nissan. We were privileged to be a part of this trip, and we are excited as to how we were received by these companies. We left with a high level of expectation for opportunities to grow our business with each of them.” Jeffrey Willis, CEO, Emma Hill Manufacturing stated, “This was a critical and necessary trip that served as an eye opening catalyst for the CEO's of Nissan, Honda, and Toyota to prompt the creation of new and more sustainable partnerships with highly skilled and prepared minority suppliers like those who were in attendance.”
Candid and probing discussions were held between the Rainbow PUSH delegation members and Japan and U.S.-based leaders of Toyota, Nissan, and Honda in Tokyo, Yokohama and Toyota City. One-on-one meetings were also convened to match up the needs of the auto manufacturers with the specific skill sets and services of the African American businesses.
“Our mission was achieved in creating and establishing essential global purchasing relationships with Nissan, Honda and Toyota,” said Glenda Gill, chief trade mission organizer and executive director of the Rainbow PUSH Automotive Project. “Information sharing about the growing ethnic marketplace and potential opportunities with dealers, suppliers, advertising and marketing outlets and professional services were well received. It was an enlightening trip of understanding and education of our mutually beneficial goals for growth. We look forward to our plan of action follow-up meetings over the next several months.”
Further one-on-one and group follow-up meetings will be convened in the U.S. with each of the manufacturers, who expressed a keen commitment to open up new opportunities for African American businesses and seek solutions to create a sustainable supplier base for their companies. Executive leaders of both Honda and Nissan expressed a sincere commitment to address the imbalance and specific steps to address the gaps and advance two-way, reciprocal trade.
Tom Goss of Goss LLC which provides commercial insurance, commented, “The Japan trade mission was very insightful from a culture and inclusion perspective. All three auto companies recognize the size and opportunity that North America represents for their future growth. They all have a clear understanding of the economic impact that the Black consumer has on their brand and the need to create business opportunities for Black businesses. We look forward to being part of that growth in North America.”
Gaining access to contracts and capital has been constraining for minority-owned automotive dealers and suppliers. African American-owned auto dealers have dwindled from 738 in 2006 to 260 in 2012 compared to 19,837 total dealers. The African-American owned supplier numbers are dismal as well. Jackson added, “There are historic gaps that have left qualified, capable African American businesses out of the auto industry – as dealers and suppliers; and in the area of advertising and marketing. While ethnic minorities purchase Honda, Toyota and Nissan vehicles at high rates as consumers, there is no correlative business relationship between the auto companies and African American businesses. We need a new dynamic. We need sustainable partnerships to close the gaps.”
The automotive industry plays a central role in the economic development of ethnic-minority communities in the U.S. While, the U.S. ethnic-minority communities are a growth investment opportunity for the automotive industry.
The Rainbow PUSH Automotive Project has issued an “Automotive Diversity Scorecard” grading the auto manufacturers on their supplier diversity, minority dealer development, ethnic employment, ethically-owned advertising and marketing spend, and philanthropic giving back to the ethnic communities. The scoring system is based on the same “green,” “yellow” and “red” tracking metrics that is most often used in scoring throughout the automotive industry. In dialogue with the Japanese leaders of the auto manufacturers, some expressed the need to turn their “red scores” into “green scores” and seek new ways to include African American suppliers in their chain.
“The auto industry sets specific, measurable metrics to grow their market share. They should set the same measurable goals and targets to grow the number of African American suppliers and dealers; as well as, to increase ethnic employment and spending dollars with ethnic-owned media outlets,” injected Rev. Jackson.
A delegation member, Louis James, president and CEO of MCL Jasco, Inc., summarized the trade mission by saying, “It was a win-win situation. Corporate leadership reinforced their companies’ commitment to diversity. And, the trade mission also provided a roadmap as companies’ shared their plans to localize their products and services creating global opportunities for diverse suppliers in the U.S.”
Steve Hightower, president and CEO, Hightowers Petroleum and part of the delegation, said, “For years I have watched the consistency in the theme of the Rainbow PUSH Automotive Project and its advocacy for African American businesses. Participating in this trade mission to Japan was an opportunity and clear confirmation of what can be done to showcase America's best and brightest companies capable of competing globally -- a great opportunity!"
Commenting on the success of the trade mission, Rev. Jackson concluded, “The companies here today, can do business with the auto companies right now: they can make seats right now. They can supply gas, right now. They can provide insurance, right now. They can do logistics and be part of the supply chain, right now. It’s up to Honda, Toyota and Nissan to seize the initiative to do business with them, right now. We need some victories and winners to announce! It will only inspire greater belief and confidence in the auto company’s commitment to inclusion. Let’s not recycle the pain, but provide a new entry lane onto the highway.”
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Rainbow PUSH Coalition is a multi-racial, multi-issue, progressive, international organization that was formed in December 1996 by the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. through merging of two organizations he founded Operation PUSH People United to Serve Humanity (established 1971) and the Rainbow Coalition (established 1984). With headquarters in Chicago and offices in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, New York and Oakland, the organization works to make the American Dream a reality for all citizens while advocating for peace and justice around the world. RPC is dedicated to improving the lives of all people by serving as a voice for the voiceless. Its mission is to protect, defend and gain civil rights by leveling the economic and educational playing fields while promoting peace and justice around the world.
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