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Diversity and inclusion have long been recognized as vitally important to the growth and development of the global economy. Many companies, from large Fortune 500 multi-nationals to small, independent businesses create policies to encourage the hiring of diverse employees and partnering with disadvantaged business owners, whether they are minorities, women, veterans of the armed forces or members of the LGBT community.
Such measures are widely praised for the collaboration they encourage as well as the extra cultural sensitivities they bring about. They can even increase the generation of creative solutions and open up new markets as previously overlooked business opportunities are discovered.
To ensure a successful diverse supplier program, here are 5 best practices you should be sure to follow:
1) Secure buy-in from top management
This needs to be your number one priority. If the CEO has no interest in a supplier diversity program, there is little chance of it taking off within your organization. Decisions and commitments that stick come from the top in most companies, so make the business case for enacting your diversity program, back it up with data and try to build support from all levels of management.
2) Set measurable goals
After getting the executives to sign off on a diversity course of action, the next step is to set actual targets for performance. It’s ok to start low – say, with committing to making 5% of your procurements with small, minority-owned or woman-owned businesses – but make sure you set SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound). Then make sure you evaluate your company’s performance against these goals on a monthly or quarterly basis.
3) Partner with organizations that cater to small and diverse businesses
Once you have set goals to work with disadvantaged businesses, you next have to find them. One of the best ways to get your organization in front of many diverse companies is through the numerous government and non-profit entities that have been established to aid minority enterprises. These organizations hold numerous conferences, networking events and other outreach opportunities with the express purpose of connecting diverse suppliers with the corporations looking to do business with them. Some great places to start are the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC).
4) Start a supplier database
Create a database of all your suppliers, not just those are diverse. Enter in everything you know about these companies: size, employees, price quotes, contract values, environmental certifications and of course, diversity status. Keeping a central repository of all your procurement contacts will allow you easily compare prices and offerings side by side and determine who is producing value, what areas can use improvement and what segments could use a few more diverse suppliers.
5) Promote your diversity
Once you have set and met your diversity goals, worked with some new suppliers and attended some matchmaking events, it’s time to take it to the next level. Apply for awards related to working diverse suppliers. Encourage your largest contractors to implement their own diversity and inclusion programs (as a bonus, you may be able to include portions of their contracts toward your own annual goals). Put out press releases and social media updates covering the disadvantaged businesses you’ve partnered with. Challenge your competitors to utilize diverse suppliers of their own. You’ve taken the time and effort to build a more connected, mutually beneficial, multi-cultural world. Don’t be humble about it, sing it from the rooftops!
Looking to put together a diversity outreach event or connect with minority- or women-owned small businesses? Let us know! We’ve developed and run many successful events for large clients looking to connect with small businesses. Click the button below and let’s have a chat.
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