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!

Supporting diverse populations

In these uncertain times, my thoughts have been with the populations that I have been working to support for the last few years – those from the underrepresented groups. Usually I am focused on the equality of pay for people of color, however we spend a lot of time working with organizations on hiring people who are newcomers, people with disabilities and Indigenous that I can’t help to think about how we can help them. I need your help to do that. 

These individuals are usually the ones who are already struggling to find meaningful employment and many times close to the poverty line (26% -33% of those in poverty are immigrant and Indigenous women). Times where there are so many layoffs and companies are impacted financially, these individuals are some of the first who will be losing their jobs. 

Here are a few strategies that I am thinking about. I would love to hear your thoughts on how to support these individuals further:

For companies, who haven’t laid people off yet, strategize with your team on what is possible. Are there opportunities available to the company right now that were not available before? Is there another way to decrease expenses while keeping team members employed? 

Donate locally. Many of these individuals will be accessing the Adopt a school program and the Food bank. Please give to local organizations like the food programs or women’s shelters or other programs (please comment with suggestions below).

Gather resources in your community. Is there a place on your street or in your cul-de-sac where food can be left that people can access without having to ask for it (this is a total out of the box idea but think big people)?

As a company, give relief to your customers if possible. It will help with their cash flow and stress.

Set up a call with someone outside of your immediate circle and just connect. Connection can be what gives someone hope that they are not alone. 

I would love to hear your suggestions and ideas on how we can support these individuals.

When someone says “go back to where you came from”

When someone says “go back to where you came from”

Canada is my home. I was born here. Tips to overcome the challenging of one’s identity.

This week, we have seen the statement “go back to where you came from” all over the news. In Trump’s latest controversy, he suggested four progressive congresswomen go back to their own countries. All are American citizens and three of them were born in the US. The incident has brought up a lot of emotion in many of us watching across the world. These types of comments can leave us feeling angered, enraged, hurt, confused, and unsafe. 

Many persons of diverse backgrounds born and raised in Canada and the US have had this statement directed at us, especially when we were younger, and many of our parents heard it in the workplace. “Go back to where you came from” style statements usually arise in a conflict or in some form of retaliation, especially where the culturally diverse person has the perceived upper hand. It’s a low blow that is challenging to respond to. 

The first time I heard this comment I was in grade 6 and it was made by a “friend” with a Japanese background who was mad at me. I just looked at her and said, “But we are both born here, so where would we go?” I remember my teacher talking to me about it and having us both apologize. She admitted she said it because there was nothing else she could say to hurt me. I forgave her, but I wasn’t sure of how this comment would impact me. 

I am not the only one who has gone through this and I share my story because I know many others can relate. The “You don’t belong here” discrimination has been leveraged against my parents, my friends, their parents, our cousins… the list goes on. 

It is so difficult to hear this comment in particular as it does challenge one’s sense of self and one’s identity. It challenges where people feel at home and where they feel like they belong. It challenges how safe they feel being in the country they live in.

It was really difficult to go back to school for a few days. I wasn’t sure of my place, as I didn’t know if my other classmates felt that this country wasn’t home for me either. 

When you experience a shaken sense of self around your belonging, it may impact your work, cause extra stress and unknowingly impact how you show up in the world. Some people hide, while others get angry and there is an entire spectrum of valid responses in between. 

Here are 5 strategies that you can use to move through this experience:

  1. Find a way to express the emotion in a positive manner. The emotion is not only in response to what is happening now but is arising in the context of what has been happening for generations. It may be about the injustice of people being bullied and being treated like they are second class citizens. Outrage is valid, but that emotion needs to move and be processed – holding it in your body will cause deeper problems. So let it cycle. Journal, go to kickboxing class, talk it out with people you care about, punch a pillow, go for a run. Do whatever you need to do to come back to a strong sense of self and take back some control. 
  2. Talk about what others, especially kids, are feeling. If we are going to end the cycle of people of culturally diverse backgrounds having to struggle and fight for their place, we need to focus on the kids and help them navigate their emotions and what is happening. Children hear snippets in the news or at school, so try to address the messaging they are receiving. Ask them how they felt and reinforce that they do belong. Also discuss what feelings are arising for your friends and family and ask how it is impacting them.
  3. If it is impacting your work, talk to your manager or HR representative and let them know that you need extra support. Such action is particularly important if there is something that needs to change in your organizational culture. Then you can take this as an opportunity to address and only discuss that issue, which should help resolve that feeling of ostracization and othering in your workplace. 
  4. Remember that you do belong. Meditate on all the ways that this is your home and how you can feel more at home exactly where you are. 
  5. Have compassion and forgive. Have compassion for those who make these comments, as bullies are usually broken and forgive yourself if you need to for your reaction to the situation. 

It is up to you to take back the power and take back your place in the country. When people make hateful comments, address it, but recognize that they may not change from you fighting them. So show them in your own way that you belong in your home here in North America.