LOS ANGELES — For Southern California business owners, All-Star Week 2022 offered a unique opportunity for professional growth.
Major League Baseball and the Dodgers hosted the inaugural “Doing Business With Baseball” event on Friday, a networking lunch and reception hosted at Dodger Stadium’s Stadium Club and hosted by Billy Bean, senior vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion of MLB. Attendees included entrepreneurs and representatives from over 30 local businesses, representing a wide range of industries, including food and beverage, promotions and infrastructure.
As different as these companies were, they each had at least two things in common. All are run by underrepresented business owners (including small businesses owned by Black, Latino/a, Asian, Women, Veterans, LGBTQ and other small underrepresented companies). And all are vying for future or ongoing partnerships with Major League Baseball.
“One of the commitments I made to [Commissioner Rob Manfred] was a more concerted and effective supplier in the area of supplier diversity,” Bean said. “Because I truly believe that investing in communities and representation is how we continue to get this message across. [of the importance of inclusion and equity] there and show it in baseball.
Established in 1998, Major League Baseball’s Diverse Business Partners program has cultivated new and existing partnerships with underrepresented businesses. The program increases opportunities for women- and minority-owned businesses to participate in procurement activities for MLB entities and clubs.
Since the program’s inception, MLB and its clubs have spent nearly $2 billion on businesses owned by various owners.
Every business owner in attendance Friday got the chance to talk a bit about themselves and their company’s services, essentially explaining why they’d be a good match to work with MLB, the Dodgers — and each other. others.
“This is just a chance for MLB to give you an opportunity and a chance to showcase the work that [you do]said Maverick Palabasan, MLB’s chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer. “So it’s not just a chance for us here at MLB to do better, because we can all do better. But also, it’s just a chance for everyone to network with each other. If it’s no business with us at MLB, if it’s not business with one of the 30 teams, it’s potentially going to be business with a lot of people.
Speakers included Dodgers Chief Purchasing Officer Lisa McShane; Marlene Nantell, Vice President of External Affairs, Southern California Minority Supplier Development Council; and Alan Lin, owner of a print shop and winner of the 2022 Dodgers Most Valuable Business Partner award. A recurring theme of the day was the importance of equal opportunity regardless of personal background.
No one knows that better than Bean. As a once closeted gay man who played from 1987 to 1995 – a time when blatant homophobia was rampant in the sports world – Bean noted how much the industry had changed, both on and off the field. outside, and he stressed the need for tolerant and safe working environments for all. This includes in MLB, at all levels.
“I’m big on representation and I love having as many voices in the room as possible to try and make a wonderful collaboration,” Bean said. “Because it’s fun to see something really great come together.”