DETROIT -- A senior Nissan executive fears that Silicon Valley's race to develop software for connected cars, collision avoidance and other high-tech functions is leaving minority suppliers behind.
John Martin, Nissan North America's senior vice president for manufacturing, supply chain management and purchasing, says he has begun asking Tier 1 suppliers to do business with minority-owned software vendors.
Martin says he has raised the issue with Microsoft and other software vendors.
"These conversations are at a very early stage," Martin said during a Rainbow PUSH Coalition conference late last month here. "It's a problem that I spotted. As we start to work with companies like Microsoft, we're asking them, "What are you doing about this?'"
This year, Nissan has earmarked 5 percent of its North American purchasing budget for minority-owned vendors, a category that includes businesses owned by African-Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, Asians and women.
Nissan also has asked its Tier 1 suppliers in North America to allot 5 percent of their purchasing budget for minority-owned suppliers. The problem, according to Martin, is that minority software entrepreneurs are in short supply as demand for software is soaring.
"Software is going to account for more and more of our total expenditures," Martin said. "If we don't address it now, it's going to threaten our overall [minority purchasing] targets. And that's a big issue."