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. 

Introducing IDEA + B – A New Way Forward for the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Conversation

Introducing IDEA + B – A New Way Forward for the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Conversation

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) have been important considerations in the workplace for many years. However, it’s time to move beyond this way of thinking and approach EDI from a different angle. Enter “IDEA+B”—an acronym that stands for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, & Belonging. 

This new framework flips the traditional viewpoint on its head and puts inclusion front and center as a core value of any business. This approach recognizes that inclusion in the workplace is the starting point to achieving greater equity, diversity of thought, accessibility, and ultimately a greater sense of belonging.

What Is IDEA+B?

IDEA+B is a new way of looking at EDI that puts inclusion first. Instead of starting with equitable systems and processes as a means to attract diversity and result in inclusion, IDEA + B starts with inclusion, leading to diversity of thought and equity. It encourages businesses to prioritize creating an inclusive environment where everyone can feel welcome and valued—regardless of their background or identity. 

Organizations can think about; how do we bring diversity of thought into everything that we do, and what does that look like?

By making inclusion a central part of their mission statement or corporate values, businesses can inspire employees to think about diversity in terms of what perspectives may be missing or underrepresented within their organization. Creating inclusion in the workplace means understanding that each person’s action or inaction influences how someone else feels. Find out more about how inclusive culture creates community here. 

IDEA + B focuses on creating systems and processes that are equitable for all groups within an organization. It emphasizes overcoming barriers that prevent individuals from feeling included, such as language barriers or inaccessible technology platforms. Small gestures such as using progressive, intentional language or recognizing other people’s cultural celebrations can go a long way in helping people feel welcome. 

Diversity and Inclusion

Finally, IDEA + B seeks to create a sense of belonging within organizations by asking questions like: “How can we create an environment where everyone feels at home?” Creating an inclusive workspace means understanding different perspectives so all voices can be heard, and everyone feels welcome and respected. Find some simple and practical steps you can take to create a more inclusive company culture here.

The Benefits Of IDEA + B

By implementing IDEA + B into your business practices, you can create an inclusive environment where everyone feels welcomed and valued—no matter who they are or where they come from. This will lead to increased productivity and creativity among employees since they will feel like they are part of a team. 

Additionally, organizations will become more attractive to potential hires since candidates will know that their diversity is embraced and valued as they see themselves being reflected within the establishment. Inclusive organizations are also more appealing to customers who want to align their money and values when it comes to who they give their business to. 

At Veza, we are shifting our focus to IDEA + B, drawing attention to inclusivity first, allowing a variety of voices to be heard, and then creating truly equitable systems and processes. Ultimately, this leads to more diversity in the workplace, a sense of community, and a feeling of belonging. 

This new framework will provide clarity and perspective as we continue to advocate for equity deserving groups, and help you create more equity, diversity, and inclusion in the workplace with a real emphasis on belonging. Find out more about how Veza can support your inclusive culture through assessments and audits here

Metrics in Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Metrics in Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Our current socio-political climate has shined a glaring light on the necessity for large scale change across organizations of any size when it comes to equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI). Most companies however, face the same issue they always have when working with qualitative features of social systems.

How do you make things tangible?

When implementing change in an organization, it can be hard to find a starting point, especially when it comes to tackling social systems in the workplace. However, being able to add tangible value to these concerns can make for a good start. Ways to make EDI tangible is using metrics to quantify the levels of engagement in EDI in the organization. Using metrics will help you find a starting point in your organization’s journey and will help your managers stear in the right direction. The best part of using metrics is that they can be used across all of your organization’s departments and can act as a benchmark for your EDI journey.

How do you justify the time, effort and investment in ways that make business sense?

Organizations are always going to ask themselves “Is this even worth it.” The answer is yes. Diverse companies make better decisions 87% of the time, are 35% more likely to have above average profits, are more productive, innovative and attractive to investors and customers. Employees of diverse backgrounds and abilities can reduce risk by 30% while improving innovation by 20%. Implementing diverse practices makes business sense. Having EDI fosters more creativity to help with problem solving and can ultimately improve an organization’s bottom line through breakthrough innovations. Not only can it improve your organization’s productivity, it can also impact the overall culture in a positive way that makes your employees feel safe and included to share their perspectives. 

Organizations have always had trouble dealing with these questions even in a broader people sense, now including new budget items around EDI need to be justified and warranted.

This is why industry leaders today put an increasing emphasis on measuring, analyzing and implementing a data-driven, quantifiable approach to EDI, giving it the same level of analytical thought as other technology-heavy functions like finance and supply chain.

The problem here is the difficulty in accurately and meaningfully quantifying these unique, ambiguous and subjective features that set EDI apart from most other functions. Most small and medium enterprises that lack the technology, systems and data aren’t even sure of where to begin. Hopefully, this article will help with that first step.

EDI metrics can be broadly classified into 3 categories – Diagnostic, Tracking and Prediction.

Diagnostic metrics are the most fundamental ones that directly determine the success of the other categories. These parameters help explore, quantify and shine a light on the potential focus areas for interventions. Some are common across most organizations, such as:

  • Diversity ratios
  • Employee engagement and retention metrics
  • Hiring and recruitment pipeline metrics
  • Compa ratios and benefits
  • Standardized exit interview data 
  • Employer brand. 

Others would be more specific to each organization based on its location or industry. For example, language might be an important diversity metric in European offices, while race and ethnicity might be more crucial in North America. The purpose of these metrics is to provide a blueprint and starting point for your organization, the data of which can then be used to start asking the right questions.

Once these questions have been asked, Tracking metrics come into play. How do you know whether your questions are accurate and what is your frame of reference? What are the standards to which you hold each parameter? Benchmarking plays a key role in this stage to provide each organization with the context and guidance it needs. When interventions are decided based on your diagnostic metrics, tracking parameters would include measures like participation rates in training programs, membership rates in ERGs and mentorship groups, and employee feedback data. These metrics will help steer the course of your interventions and adapt them to best suit your organization’s needs. Having a benchmark allows your managers to have a starting point in the EDI journey. 

The final and most challenging category is prediction metrics. These can be thought of as return on investment, but aren’t simply limited to financial returns. In order to understand how well your interventions are doing, you must most often draw insights against time. Trends across months or years help provide a bird’s eye view of the progress being made by the organization and in turn help predict the most probable outcome. These predictions can be as simple as a regression line that predicts the re-hire budget saved through diversity retention, or as intricate as complex supervised learning models that predict which employees are at a risk of getting disengaged. A major variable to keep in mind here is that ethics and moral decision-making must always trump the ever increasing need for more accurate information. 

When starting or continuing your organization’s EDI journey, finding that starting point can be the most challenging and daunting part. This is where Veza helps. Veza and its team of EDI experts will help guide your organization through its EDI journey through our Assessment. The Assessment gives your organization the necessary metrics on all aspects of the business to ensure that your EDI journey is measured. Our Maturity Model is used to gauge where your organization is on its diversity journey. The model helps identify the level of investment the organization is making to attract and retain underrepresented groups as employees, suppliers, or customers.

To get a snapshot of how your organization is doing for inclusivity, Veza offers a free Self Assessment. This free Self Assessment will give your organization an insight of areas for improvement in its EDI journey. However, if after taking the free Self Assessment is leaving you wanting more, you can take the plunge into Veza’s Full Assessment. 

Click here to take Veza’s free Self Assessment!

Veza Leaders to Watch: Hurriya Burney

Veza Leaders to Watch: Hurriya Burney

At Veza, we honour the work of inspiring leaders every single day. Not just the known and notable but rather, everyday women who are drawing upon and celebrating their culture while making a lasting difference in their community using their gifts. From authors and teachers, CEOs to entrepreneurs, not-for-profit directors, artists, and more, these women are changing the face of leadership.

These are truly women to watch and Veza Community is so pleased to share their brilliance.

May their stories inspire YOU to rise.

Meet Hurriya Burney

Hurriya Burney is Vice President, Commercial Banking, at RBC Royal Bank. She leads a team of 13 Commercial Accounts and leads RBC’s Healthcare segment strategy in BC. Hurriya holds an MBA in Finance from the University of British Columbia and a Bachelors in Economics & Business and English from Lafayette College.

Tell me in 100 words who you are? How would you describe yourself. 
A sales leader in financial services passionate about diversity and inclusion, I am committed to mentoring and supporting others to achieve their career goals. I am also a writer who aims to inspire and motivate others by sharing my leadership, career, and life lessons on Medium.com/@burneyhurriya. I believe in giving back to my community through engagement with organizations such as Veza and Female Funders. An immigrant to Canada, I am proud to call Vancouver home for the last 10 years. I am energized by travel, building new connections, learning from others’ stories, and taking on new challenges.
What motivates/inspires you to get up each morning? 
The thought of having a positive impact on someone’s life and contributing to someone’s career growth. I love to spend time with my team in market, solving problems and delighting clients together.
What contribution are you most proud of to date?
I am extremely proud of mentoring a bright, ambitious young woman through Veza and having a material impact on her confidence and self-belief.
What is it that you feel that you teach others through how you act/show up each day?
My goal is to be a role model for minority women, showing them that they can ascend to senior levels in the corporate world. I also aim to be a relatable leader who is not afraid to make herself vulnerable and to share her flaws. I teach others about hard work, perseverance, and the value of being bold and advocating for yourself.
What’s one change you would like to see in this world?
Acceptance of all of the differences that make us unique – but also makes us human. I firmly believe in never judging others when you haven’t lived their lives and in treating everyone exactly the same, whether it is a janitor or a CEO.
What books are currently on your nightstand?
‘When’ by Daniel Pink. ‘The 10X Rule’ by Grant Cardone. ‘A House in the Sky’ by Amanda Lindhout

Find her on Instagram

If you know a leader we should feature please invite her to share her story with us here.

Do you feel like the “awkward BIPOC person” as a woman in tech? Here are four tips to help you to have a POSITIVE work experience

Do you feel like the “awkward BIPOC person” as a woman in tech? Here are four tips to help you to have a POSITIVE work experience

By: Munifa Ahmed.

Endorsement of Diversity and inclusion (D&I) and cultural practices within an organization have increasingly become a critical and important reputable aspect to the success of many businesses, especially in the Tech scene. There has been a lot of research and many other resources on how to adapt, retain and measure the value of D&I. 

But based on the World Economic Forum report, the global gender parity is estimated to take 100 years to close that gap in the tech sector, at the current rate of change. This is while gender equality is one of the key determinants of diversity in an organization.

An aspect, I think, that might be under shared, is the actual story of the -nitty gritty- experience and insights of how navigating tech, looks like as a BIPOC (Black, indigenous, and people of color), visible minority or LGBTQ2A+ person. 

So, it is as important to speak about and dive deeper into the experience of actually working in these spaces. In this blog, I will try to share my experience and insights as a young, recent immigrant, Muslim, hijabi woman who is navigating her way to social entrepreneurship in the tech world. As women, people of colour, visible minorities and/or religious groups, what is our role and work in this process of change? Do we lay back and wait for changes to occur? 

Having the privilege to represent more than six social labels and breaking through the mainstream biases and narration made based on gender, race and background was not a smooth process. It required high self-awareness, patience and inconsideration in some instances, here are some tips from my experience and research I have done: 

  1. Be Comfortable Being Uncomfortable. This is the rule of thumb when it comes to personal and professional development. The same principle applies here, from researching the market to learning new tech skills. Then comes the actual job of job searching. After spending six months researching, I learned to stop feeling comfortable by trying to find people who look like me and kept asking questions when I get stuck (there is no such thing as a stupid question). Nearly half of Tech companies are hiring non-technical skills, so working on your communication, presentation and body language is also valuable. It is okay if you do not code. All these steps require little bit thicker skin, but will help you move towards a rewarding and exciting career.

  2. Engage with Asking, Questioning and Curiosity. As obvious as it might seem, it is necessary to be proactive in building professional relationships at your workplace and tech network. It could be as simple as trying to understand and engage in a group tech joke (like a Spider makes a website not landing page, lol) to as complex negotiating your unique perspective confidently. Being assertive, flexible, friendly and funny is where the magic happens when it comes to engaging here and in life, generally.

  3. ALWAYS be a Proactive Learner . There is an Arabic saying, “coming late will not cut the work.” Your presence is already perceived as an unequivocal challenge to the tech sector. And doing the work on our own mindsets is essential in an ever growing and evolving industry. Pivoting from my Administration and Marketing background was a steep turn and most challenging. But that was not all, I realized after graduation that thousands of bootcamp developer graduates are competing for a similar position. So, I decided to utilize my coding skills as a compelling selling feature in a different position which led me to take Veza’s Digital Marketing course. This learning mindset is the key to growth and success in the Tech sector.

  4. Be YOURSELF. “Connect and Communicate like you’ve known them for 1000 years” – this was my secret recipe while building a network or meeting for an interview. My LinkedIn connections have more doubled since pivoting toward a tech career, nine months ago. This mindset is so powerful when it comes to creating a meaningful connection. From sharing your thoughts to asking for help and from owning your weakness to speaking in public, those are one of the basic principles that guide my decision while interacting with people in general. 

All in all, those are insights from my personal experience which has helped me to navigate the sector and successfully land my first job in tech as a Data Analyst and Marketer at the startup Apples & Oranges Analytics. By sharing our experiences, hopefully, we can all contribute to creating a more inclusive culture. As there is overall more interest, policy integration and active participation from the employer side, complementing the movement and progress through sharing our stories will inspire and involve broader communities


Munifa Ahmed is a recent migrant to Canada in 2017. She is a Spring 2019 graduate of Veza Community’s Digital Marketing Program for Immigrant Women. Through her passion for creativity and personal-development, she had pivoted toward tech and landed her career as a Digital Analyst and Marketer. To learn more about her and her climate action project, visit www.munifaahmed.io.