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ost companies at this point understand the inancial and social benefits of having a top- notch supplier diversity program but still need as- sistance in getting started or expanding. Depending on where your company is on their supplier diversi- ty journey that can look different according to your unique goals and company structure. However, some aspects always ring true. Here are a few strategies that can help you build or transition to a next level suppli- er diversity program.
MAKE SURE YOUR ORGANIZATION UNDER- STANDS SUPPLIER DIVERSITY
According to the Small Business Administra- tion, supplier diversity programs were designed to give minority, women and what has since been classified as under-utilized small business owners, an opportunity to secure contracts with govern- ment agencies, major companies and corporations as qualified-small business suppliers. Under-uti- lized small business owners also include those who are LGBTQIA+, veterans or those with disabilities. These programs serve as a bridge of opportunity to those who, in general, have not always received equal access to participate in such opportunities. What these programs are NOT is a hand out. Diverse and historically-disadvantaged suppliers must still be competitive and offer outstanding products or ser- vices in order for companies that contract with them to still offer the highest levels of excellence.
GET THE BUY-IN & CREATE A CORPORATE POLICY
Many agencies and programs have federal man- dates on their supplier diversity spending. While you may not have supplier diversity requirements, that does not mean you cannot create a company pol- icy and commit to it. Drafting a policy for internal stakeholders and customers helps define how you plan to use the supplier diversity program as well as in what ways it will be a benefit to everyone. Sup- plier diversity programs help businesses survive during economic downturns, weather supply chain shortages as well as bring new services or products to consumers more quickly. They widen the sup- plier pool and promote healthy competition, which improves quality and can reduce costs. Explaining this rationale in your policy will go a long way to getting the buy-in needed at all levels of your or- ganization. Once outlined, the policy can be main- tained through an internal accountability structure.
Building a Next Level Supplier Diversity Program
By Tawanah Reeves-Ligon START WITH YOUR CURRENT SUPPLY CHAIN
The easiest place to start or improve is within your current supply chain. Identify those suppliers you al- ready have that fall into the diversity categories as well as how much you spend with them. Break down those figures and spending for each category dol- lar-for-dollar to get an overall sense of where your diversity spending already is. This will help you identify where your spending is, and where it is not. What businesses are you spend- ing with, but could do more? Reach out to the ones you have a relationship with and increase spending with them as well as request referrals. They probably know other quality suppliers looking for opportunity. Which diverse and historically-underutilized busi- nesses are you not spending with? Contact local supplier diversity councils in your area or state that service those groups to let them know youre looking to expand your supplier diversity spending with them in mind.
BRING DIVERSITY INTO YOUR PROCURE- MENT & ONBOARDING
Procurement and onboarding are excellent areas to work on supplier diversity. As with any business tactic, supplier diversity becomes successful when incorporated naturally into day-to-day operations. Integrate supplier diversity into your procurement function through digitization automation. Also, add a business clarification form that includes diversity de- mographics to your packet of forms and contracts that you require from suppliers as part of your onboarding processes. Ask for third-party certifications. Get as much information as you can, so that you can more accurately monitor and track your program.
HAVE EFFECTIVE TOOLS AND SYSTEMS IN PLACE
You need more than spreadsheets to build and maintain a next level supplier diversity program. Once you have your accountability statement and cor- porate policy in place, have the proper reporting tools and systems to be able to gauge your progress and expand. How do internal stakeholders find the wom- en- or LGBTQIA-owned suppliers they need to ful- ill their commitment in the supplier database? What tracking methods and metrics are available to assist in their relationship building with their veteran- or minority-owned suppliers? Have annual audits and, if necessary, adjust or remove certain activities in order to realign your organization with your policies and plans. Invest in a vendor management software, or outsource monitoring, if necessary, to a supplier man- agement team to help you attain and progress your supplier diversity goals. Being aware of what companies youre attracting and partnering with through your supplier diversity program goes beyond social responsibility and ac- countability politics. Your stakeholders, employees and customer base are watching as well to see that youre represented by the best and creating opportu- nity for forward progression. Thus, take these strate- gies and build a better tomorrow for your business.Previous Page