2017 will be the year when Diversity in Procurement takes the spotlight. And here’s why.
In March 2017, the Institute for Supply Management is holding a major summit on Diversity in procurement and supply management.
Diversity advocate Shelley Stewart Jr (VP and CPO of DuPont), has seen first-hand the positive impact that a strong, diverse organisation can have on the bottom line. Stewart is championing the case for making supply chains a bias-free zone at ISM Diversity 2017.
Here’s why supplier diversity matters to your procurement function, your business and your customers.
Increasing Supplier Diversity is our Responsibility
A 2009 study from Pew Research has found that while minority-owned firms made up 41 per cent of all companies in the U.S., they only took in 10.9 per cent of overall revenue. Why?
Contributing factors include:
- unconscious bias amongst decision-makers;
- a narrow focus on cost over other value;
- restrictive criteria for suppliers;
- inflexible and non-scalable policies;
- a tendency for big business to be most comfortable working similarly sized entities.
These days, diversity spend is now firmly on the agenda and rising every year. Reversing the contributing factors above has led to a more inclusive focus on overall value (including social benefits) over cost, flexible and scalable policies and criteria for suppliers, and a recognition that the strongest business relationships are often made with smaller, more diverse suppliers.
Customers Want to see Diversity in Action
The public relations aspect shouldn’t be the prime reason for having a supplier diversity programme. However, it’s still important to track, measure and report on your diverse supply base to win recognition from your customers.
Your customer base is diverse, so your business needs to be diverse as well. This comes through adequate representation in the supplier base.
Partnerships with diverse suppliers will give your business a competitive advantage when facing changing customer demographics. For example, if you operate in an area with a rapidly-growing minority population, your key relationships with minority-owned suppliers will become more important than ever.
Diversity Drives Innovation
Essentially, diversity brings a number of different backgrounds and life experiences into your supplier mix to overcome homogenous thinking with fresh new perspectives.
Size matters, too. A study by CHI Research determined that small businesses generate 13 to 14 times more patents per employee than large firms. Since diverse suppliers tend to be small businesses, many companies use their supplier diversity programmes to tap into new and varied creative resources and the innovation that is occurring at these firms.
The fierce competition for business amongst diverse suppliers is another driver for innovation.
Diverse Suppliers are Often More Flexible
Because most diverse suppliers are small businesses, they are usually able to offer greater flexibility, better customer focus and lower cost structures than larger businesses.
Smaller, diverse suppliers are less likely to be tied down by restrictive policy, red-tape or innovation-stifling bureaucracy.
Follow the Leaders
Some of the world’s leading companies are moving ahead with impressive supplier diversity programmes.
- Microsoft, for example, has recently exceeded $2 billion in annual spend with M/WBE businesses.
- Google launched a best-practice supplier diversity programme in 2015. It brings key partners into the Google Academy for shared learning opportunities that will drive further innovation.
- AT&T celebrate their suppliers as one of their “four pillars of diversity”, the other three being the organisation’s employees, community and marketing.
If your organisation’s supplier diversity program is still only in its infancy, it’s important to increase your focus on this area or risk being left behind.
There’s an impressive array of conferences and organisations dedicated to improving supplier diversity, including:
- The National Minority Supplier Development Council;
- Supply Nation;
- Social Traders;
- And, of course, ISM Diversity.
Register now to join DuPont’s Shelley Stewart and diversity experts from Honeywell Aerospace, Rockwell Automation, Whirlpool and Fiat Chrysler at ISM Diversity. The event takes place on March 1-3 2017, at the Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld resort.