Supplier Diversity: How to Embed Equitable Practices for Economic Empowerment

Supplier Diversity: How to Embed Equitable Practices for Economic Empowerment

In today’s business world, companies are beginning to realize the importance of supplier diversity as an integral part of supply chain management. Programs are designed to source goods and services from businesses owned by equity deserving groups such as women, people of colour, 2SLGBTQAI+, and people with disabilities. This practice helps create economic empowerment by providing opportunities for diverse suppliers who have traditionally been overlooked.

How to Focus on Inclusive Products and Services

Organizations can begin by researching diverse suppliers in the industry or using resources such as WeConnect International, which offers certification for diverse suppliers and provides resources on why supplier diversity is important. Not only does this increase credibility, but going through the certification process will greatly improve how you do business. Veza Global has recently become certified as a women owned business with WeConnect International, granting us access to opportunities around the world where certified suppliers are prioritized.

At Veza, it is a priority for us to integrate the principles of IDEA + B into our organization, and this certification is one example of how we embed inclusion, diversity, equity, accessibility, and belonging into everything we do. One of the pillars in the IDEA + B assessments that we offer is supplier diversity, so it’s imperative that we participate and take action to give opportunities to equity deserving groups.

Supplier diversity is one more component for an organization to move along the inclusion, diversity, equity, accessibility, and belonging (IDEA + B) maturity model. It is essential to recognize that the supply chain plays a critical role in achieving equity and inclusion goals.

Creating a Supplier Diversity Program

One of the key steps in implementing a successful program is to establish a supplier diversity plan. This plan should include a clear statement of the company’s commitment, goals, and strategies for identifying diverse suppliers, training, and monitoring progress. 

When considering a supplier diversity program, organizations can ask themselves important questions like: 

  • Where are we spending our money, and how are we using our investments to bring more equity to society? 
  • Where are we getting our contractors from, and how do we advertise to contractors? 
  • Where are we getting our supplies from?
  • How can we give opportunities to people who might not otherwise have access?

Equitable practices can also be embedded into the creation of products and services, by considering the end user first, and asking questions like: 

  • Who else can benefit from this? 
  • Who can benefit from this product or service that might not otherwise have access?

Companies such as Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson, and Toyota Motors North America made a public commitment to supplier diversity, which helped to ensure that their programs received the necessary resources and attention. By having a well-defined plan, organizations can ensure they are taking the necessary steps to create economic opportunities for equity deserving groups, including connecting these groups with potential job opportunities. Find out more about how we’ve implemented an equitable database at Veza Global to help with this process. 

Monitoring and Measuring Progress Toward Achieving Supplier Diversity Goals 

One way to promote supplier diversity in your business is to monitor and track the diversity of your entire ecosystem, including partnerships with MWBEs (Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises) throughout the entire value chain. It’s important to expand beyond the traditional supplier diversity measures and recognize that these partnerships may not always be direct supplier relationships or a single budget item. Additionally, it’s valuable to communicate and publicize your organization’s efforts in forming these partnerships to promote transparency and accountability.

Training employees on the importance of supplier diversity and the specific policies and procedures in place for sourcing and contracting with diverse suppliers is crucial. When employees are aware of their company’s efforts to engage with a diverse range of suppliers, it can have a positive impact on productivity, engagement, and recruitment. This helps demonstrate that the company is truly committed to its diversity initiative, and not just giving lip service.

Embedding Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Belonging Every Step of The Way

In addition to following the IDEA + B framework, there are other steps businesses can take to ensure supplier diversity. Organizations can also ensure that their procurement processes are transparent and fair, make an effort to reach out to diverse suppliers and encourage them to bid for contracts, and encourage their existing suppliers to diversify their own supply chains. Finally, businesses should ensure that their internal culture, marketing, products and services, and supply chain all embody the principles of IDEA + B.

Continue to Make Supplier Diversity a Priority

To ensure the success of a supplier diversity program, companies need to establish a supplier diversity plan, build relationships with diverse suppliers, train employees, and monitor progress. By doing so, organizations can not only promote workplace diversity but also drive economic growth and contribute to a more equitable and inclusive society. 

If you’re ready to get started, find out more about how Veza Global can help you with an IDEA + B Assessment. Looking at 4 pillars within your organization, including supplier diversity, we will analyze your current practices, identify opportunities for improvement, and create a customized strategy and roadmap with actionable recommendations toward your goals. 

When Systems are Stacked Against Us

When Systems are Stacked Against Us

The systems that we live in can be exhausting especially when you are doing so much to change them. It is frustrating, agitating, can bring up feelings of hopelessness and a span of other emotions. It can be very defeating when you have put your time and energy into doing your best to positively impact the organization and the world. 

These feelings are all very valid. All of us have been there, especially when you work in human resources or equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging. The resilience and capacity to deal with the emotions decreases, however the fire inside you still burns. 

It is that fire that is the fuel for real change. 

That fire can be harnessed by finding areas of influence that are in your sphere. 

So what is in your control?

Partnerships – who finds out about the job opportunities open in your organization? Sharing them with organizations that support equity deserving groups is a great way to create change in one person’s life. (Veza created this hiring partners and supplier diversity list that may be useful)

Diversify Suppliers – to create true economic change for equity deserving groups hire them and their companies. Truly move your money to companies that otherwise may not be a part of the supplier list for your organization

Community – connect with others who are also interested in changing systems and share best practices. Currently, Veza hosts this group on Linkedin and soon we will be announcing something special in this area so please keep a lookout on the space

What are strategies that you use to impact your sphere of influence?

What does support for internal EDIB look like?

What does support for internal EDIB look like?

What does support for Internal EDIB Committees look like?

In our experience in working with internal EDIB Committees, we do see the 5 stages of team development:

  1. ​​​​​​​Forming
  2. Storming
  3. Norming
  4. Performing
  5. Adjourning

The team usually requires facilitation at the beginning of the EDIB journey for the organization to balance the priorities of individual passions with the organizational mandate/mission. 

We usually find that the EDIB committee requires the support of senior leadership to tackle any roadblocks and budget issues. It always helps if senior leadership attends the first few meetings to address frustrations, challenges and provide direction.

The individuals on the committee may volunteer their time, and are often from equity-deserving groups. Veza recommends inviting all who want to be on the committee to join for diversity of thought as well as finding ways to compensate them for their time through monetary means, professional development or time off.

The EDIB committee needs opportunities to have discussions with leadership in order to remain in alignment with the organizational strategy.

The committee is meant to support any EDIB staff, whereas the EDIB staff may work with this committee for advice and deliverables as seen fit.

It is important that this committee be grounded in change management and change communication in order to be successful in their endeavours.

All these supports will empower the individuals on the committee to make the impact they strive to make.

 See how we can help you support your EDIB Committee

Breakdown of an Equity, Diversity, inclusion and Belonging budget

Breakdown of an Equity, Diversity, inclusion and Belonging budget

When you are making organizational cultural shifts with systemic change steeped deep in equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging, you require a budget line to go along with it. As with HR, EDIB is not meant to be an expense item but rather an investment and an asset for the organization.

EDIB budgets need line items for the following (it is not exhaustive):

  •  Staff
  • A manager and coordinator, depending on the size of the organization
  • Training budget
  • Some of this needs to be controlled by this team while team-based training is a part of the team budget
  • Gift cards/gifts for participation in activities
  • Honorarium amounts for the EDIB committee
  • Resources
  • Creating a resource that is accessible to staff for their ongoing learning
  • Event budgets to host speakers and dialogues 

We would love to know what you include in your EDIB budget!

Vulnerability in Leadership

Leadership has really changed in the last few years. We are expecting leaders to lead with more self awareness of their actions, understand the feelings of their staff while addressing social issues that are impacting their team members, manage a pandemic and business changes. In conversations with the leadership population of our clients through EDIB consulting work or inclusive leadership coaching, we find that these leaders are navigating a new way of being. This new way is one of deeper vulnerability, authenticity and transparency.

These leaders are trying to understand how these feminine leadership traits balance with the masculine leadership traits of targets and bottom line that they grew up with. They are navigating their own traumas while supporting their team members in balancing the pressures of societal issues and the pandemic. 

Many of the leaders have shared that being vulnerable in the workplace has been quite terrifying, as they fear that staff members may lose confidence in their leadership. However, the beautiful occurrence time and time again is when leaders combine authenticity with vulnerability: staff members for the most part welcome the heart-felt engagement. There are a select few who will judge or lose confidence however they usually are not a culture add for the organization so they self-select themselves out. 

As per the Merriam-webster definitions:

Vulnerability is the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.

Authenticity is being true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character.  

The beauty of being vulnerable and authentic is people see what they can trust within an individual. They become aware of false personas that are hindering connection. The connection at this level is what supports the creation of inclusive teams and inclusive culture. It is therefore important to become comfortable with one’s own truth, past and bias in order to truly be an inclusive leader. 

Through Veza’s advisory and inclusive leadership coaching, we work with leaders to address these uncomfortable situations with a little more ease and grace. The beauty of discomfort is there is always room for growth.

Creating Inclusive Hybrid Worplaces

Creating Inclusive Hybrid Worplaces

 Creating Inclusive Hybrid Workplaces

For many of us, we are planning or amidst our transition back to the office or a hybrid model. For some, there is a level of excitement and while for others, there is a level of anxiety. 

The excitement of being around others is wonderful for the extroverts, while the introverts are looking for new ways to manage their energy. 

Creating an inclusive hybrid workplace needs to be a practical, planned and purposeful exercise where extra attention needs to be given to accommodate in-person and remote employees. 

Below are 9 ways to be more inclusive in the hybrid workplace:

  1. Involving remote team members in meetings through inviting them (even last minute), providing video option for meetings
  2. Managing remote meetings (inclusion of those not in the room)
  3. “Transferring” water cooler chat to online chat
  4. Creating an environment where all feel valid for their choice. There is no shaming for working from home
  5. Effective performance management taking into account that rapport is harder to establish online
  6. Ensuring the right information is getting to the right individuals. It is easier to have conversations in person therefore an important piece is remembering who else needs to be a part of that conversation. 
  7. Continue regular weekly 1:2:1 check-ins and regular weekly team meetings are important to create a sense of belonging within the team. 
  8. Encourage team members to participate in cross-organisational committees and activities 
  9. Start weekly meetings with a personal check-in and breakouts where possible to engage team members in conversation. Breakouts can be to discuss key questions like:
    1. How did you feel you contributed in the last week?
    2. What is something you are proud of?
    3. What is a lesson you learned?

Always, feel free to take Veza Global Inclusion Self Assessment Quiz as way to measure where your organization is on the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion maturity model.