Tag Archives: supplier diversity

Five Reasons Supplier Diversity Matters

We’re often told that supplier diversity is important for any business. But are you able to articulate exactly why this is?

Here’s a cheat-sheet to help you next time a business stakeholder asks why your organisation needs a supplier diversity programme.

1. Supply managers created a lack of diversity, so it’s up to us to fix it

There’s now a level of recognition that the historical underutilisation of diverse businesses is the fault of supply management professionals.

Contributing factors include a narrow focus on cost over other value, restrictive criteria for suppliers, inflexible and non-scalable policies. Underpinning these is a tendency for big business to be most comfortable working similarly sized entities.

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.

Here’s the good news. Procurement and supply managers are leading the charge to address the issue, with diversity spend 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. There is also a recognition that the strongest business relationships are often made with smaller, more diverse suppliers.

There’s an impressive array of conferences and organisations dedicated to improving supplier diversity, including:

2. Customers are increasingly expecting diversity

Simply put, your customer base is diverse, so your business needs to be diverse as well. 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.

While the public relations aspect shouldn’t be the prime reason for having a supplier diversity programme, it’s still important to track, measure and report on your diverse supplier base to win recognition from your customers for the work you have done in this area.

3. Diversity drives innovation

A study by CHI Research determined that small businesses generate 13-14 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. Essentially, diversity brings a number of different backgrounds and life experiences into your supplier mix to overcome homogenous thinking with fresh new perspectives.

4. Diverse suppliers are often more flexible

Similarly, 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.

5. Well-known organisations are leading the way

Finally, 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.

Another technology giant, 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 programme is still only in its infancy, it’s important to increase your focus on this area or risk being left behind.

Interested in learning more about Diversity in Procurement? Register for ISM Diversity 2017, taking place March 1-3 in Orlando, Florida.

Supplier Diversity in 2017 – Here’s Why It Matters

2017 will be the year when Diversity in Procurement takes the spotlight. And here’s why.

supplier diversity

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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:

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.

Why Procurement Needs to Open the Door to Supplier Diversity

Procurement is under pressure to engage more in supplier diversity. But help is at hand from organisations who can help make connections.

open door supplier diversity

In May 2015, the Australian Government set out Indigenous company contract targets for federal departments and agencies. Starting from 0.5 per cent, the targets were set to rise to 3 per cent by 2019-20.

The joint message from the Minister for Indigenous Affairs and Minister for Finance claims, “the policy will ensure that Indigenous businesses have the chance to compete and showcase the products they have to offer.”

Supply Nation is the Australian leader in Indigenous supplier diversity. The organisation exists to connect Indigenous-owned businesses with the procurement teams of government and corporate organisations.

Supply Nation has worked closely with government to collaborate and influence the evolution of procurement policy that is now represented by the Indigenous Procurement Policy.

We sat down with Supply Nation’s CEO, Laura Berry, to talk more about the importance of this benchmark, and how organisations across Australia can strive to meet it. 

Why is engaging with Indigenous-owned businesses and suppliers so important for organisations across Australia?

Supply Nation strives to increase opportunities for Indigenous-owned businesses to supply their goods and services to large organisations. Supplier diversity puts under-represented businesses on a level playing field with other qualified suppliers when it comes to competing for the supply of quality goods and services.

One of the major benefits of opening the door to additional markets and engaging in supplier diversity, is that it facilitates the growth of Indigenous businesses. This results in increased economic activity and employment, and channels greater social value back to Indigenous communities.

In addition, data clearly shows that supplier diversity drives significant and measurable long-term business benefits, aside from the goods and services, which can ultimately provide a unique experience to customers. The addition of Indigenous-owned businesses can bring increased competitiveness, innovation and savings to the supply chain.

What qualities and capabilities have you built that supported you in achieving better procurement outcomes?

Creating an environment where our members and suppliers can connect, develop relationships and identify future procurement opportunities is integral to the work of Supply Nation.

Supply Nation assists our government and corporate members with tools and strategies to embed supplier diversity within their supply chain through a tailored account management model.

We also provide support for business matching, opportunity briefings, supplier promotions, external training opportunities and networking events.

What are the biggest challenges Supply Nation faces in procurement at the moment?

As a not-for-profit organisation, the procurement challenges facing Supply Nation itself are not significant. However, for our Indigenous suppliers, the challenges are the same as those faced by small businesses across Australia.

These include the difficulty in breaking into established supply chains and conventional procurement processes, or in developing relationships with buyers.

With the Federal Government’s Indigenous Procurement Policy, there’s more pressure for government buyers to find and engage with Indigenous-owned businesses. We see a real challenge – and a real opportunity – in facilitating the connection between the businesses and procurement professionals.

What’s the first step for organisations looking to alter their processes to meet new supplier diversity requirements around Indigenous suppliers?

Step 1 would be to become a member of Supply Nation (if you’re not already)!

Take the opportunity to search for goods or services through our directory, Indigenous Business Direct. You can engage with a Supply Nation Relationship Manager who can help you navigate the process.

We can help with changing internal policies and procedures, connecting with businesses that meet your requirements, and setting up established and sustainable supplier diversity practices that are modelled on world best practice.

How can attendees benefit from attending GovProcure 2016 (where Laura is speaking)?

We have some amazing, successful and diverse Indigenous-owned businesses that are growing fast and delivering incredible products and services. I’d recommend everyone comes along to understand how they can engage not only to hit their targets, but also to get some insight into the benefits these businesses can bring to your supply chain.

Among other Australian procurement leaders, the event will also feature Ian Rudgley, CPO for the City of Sydney, a council that despite not being subject to the federal targets, has award-winning engagement and mentorship of Indigenous suppliers.

For more details on the agenda please download the brochure.