Supplier diversity has come a long way in the last few decades. We all know that supplier diversity is relevant and especially important in today’s culture. And, we know that we can all do better, but that doesn’t mean it will be easy.
But, that’s all the more reason to set goals and tackle the supplier diversity challenges you may face in 2020:
The unintentional human bias
Let’s face it – we’re human. Each of us has our own history of experiences that impact how we view the world. We have preconceived notions about different types of people without even being aware of it. Our unintentional bias is one of the biggest challenges diversity faces. Without meaning to, we are constantly forming opinions and make judgments. We need to be aware of our biases and make a conscious effort to be objective about the companies we do business with.
The best of intentions
Most companies have good intentions. They are committed to creating a supplier diversity program that creates a sense of purpose and helps MBEs, their customers, and their community. However, diverse suppliers are often skeptical of how much companies are really changing things. Bridging the gap between suppliers and businesses will be a challenge for programs and suppliers to overcome in 2020.
Defining who is a diverse supplier
It’s important to decide which types of suppliers to be considered as diverse suppliers. Not recognizing a group when you first set up your supplier diversity goals may make it more difficult to track performance and results later.
Here are some common diversity suppliers to consider:
◦Businesses that are at least 51% owned, controlled, and operated by:
– An ethnic minority / Ethnic minorities
– A woman / Women
– A veteran / Veterans
◦ Small Businesses
◦ Businesses that are located in formally recognized economically distressed areas
Finding qualified diverse suppliers
Fortunately, there are many resources to help you find diverse suppliers. Some good options include:
• National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) and its regional affiliates
• The United States Small Business Administration (SBA)
• Local government offices
Setting program goals
You may feel that setting supplier diversity spending goals conflicts with your primary goal of reducing costs. But savings and supplier diversity goals don’t have to be at odds. Having a goal to save money motivates purchasing teams to work harder to find highly qualified diverse suppliers and maximize the number of bidding opportunities granted to diverse suppliers.
Maintaining support for diversity programs
The success of a supplier diversity program depends on the amount of support it receives from a company’s top leadership. Show your leadership the financial benefits a supplier diversity program can bring. Let them know it will position your company for success in the years to come.
Supplier diversity is here to stay. And it’s important. Let’s take an even more positive approach and call it supplier inclusion. Companies and other organizations need both diversity and inclusion to thrive. Supplier diversity and inclusion programs are good from a social standpoint. And, they also make sound business sense in light of national and global economic trends.
What do you consider to be your greatest challenge for supplier diversity in 2020?