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.