Diversity Through Collaboration

How the International Franchise Association promotes diversity in the franchising community by partnering with local leaders and organizations for education and outreach.

When Miriam Brewer first began overseeing the International Franchising Association's one-day onsite seminars for women, minorities, and veterans in 2007, she had to contact organizations across the country to inquire about bringing IFA's educational programming to them. Now they call her.

"Unfortunately, there is only one of me, and I coordinate all of these programs," says Brewer, director of education and diversity at IFA. "Since we're not into cloning, there are only so many that we can do."

The high demand, though, is evidence of the effectiveness of a "push" strategy. Rather than hoping minorities come to IFA, IFA goes to them. "People who may be interested in franchising may not be able to go to those three cities [IFA's expos in Miami, Washington, DC, and Los Angeles], so we decided to take the education out on the road to reach people," Brewer says.

Sample Documents
To learn more about IFA’s Diversity Institute and to see a sample of the Diversity & Minority Franchisee Development Guide that IFA distributes to its members, click here.

IFA never goes it alone. In every city it visits for a minority franchising seminar, it partners with a local organization or government agency to cohost the event. Those partners include members of Congress, mayors, economic-development offices, small-business administrations, chambers of commerce, and chapters of the National Urban League, the National Society of Hispanic MBAs, and the National Black MBA Association.

"When I have a list of the cities that we've identified that we want to work in, nine times out of 10 people have no idea who IFA is. So, to partner with a stakeholder with local resources and that has name recognition, that helps us to get into the door," says Brewer. "Also, we want to make sure that when I leave or when our franchise companies leave, there are local partners that [participants] can work with."

Brewer says the partnerships work because they're mutually beneficial to the organizations involved. "When we have the member of Congress or mayor who is there for that day, they get to see their local constituents. It's a win-win," she says. "It gives us entry into the particular cities; it's a win for the government officials because they can show evidence of their action to bring jobs and sustain economic development in their city."

IFA travels to national conferences of many of those partner organizations as well. In 2010, IFA's Diversity Institute will host more than 25 seminars in 20 different U.S. cities.

Joe Rominiecki is managing editor, newsletters, for ASAE. Email: [email protected]