Diverse Suppliers: Why to Engage (and How!) [612 words]

Does your company have a supplier diversity program? These programs benefit big corporations, small businesses, and entire communities. Leaders at any level need to understand why these programs matter, and how to leverage them. And if you need help launching or improving your Supplier Diversity program, check out my recommendations below this article! (Article continues below video.)

Supplier Diversity Programs Benefit Companies and Communities

If you’ve spent your whole career working at large corporations, you may not immediately recognize how small businesses benefit your community. When large companies partner with small businesses, communities thrive! This is especially true when opportunities reach business owners who have been historically excluded. The immediate boost to the small business is obvious: more revenue. But companies and communities see tangible benefits as well.

  1. Diversify your supply chain. Having multiple vendors, including smaller distributors or boutique service providers, can help you manage or reduce risk.
  2. Demonstrate your corporate commitment to diversity & inclusion. Diversity and Inclusion initiatives need to be reflected throughout the organization, not just in the hiring process. Hiring diverse suppliers is a meaningful way to live your corporate values.  
  3. Invest in your community. Almost every dollar you spend with a small business goes back into the local economy. Half of all U.S. workers are employed by small businesses. When you “shop small,” you’re having a big impact on job creation. By investing locally, you increase the local tax base.
  4. Strengthen or expand your customer base. Word gets out when companies hire small, local businesses. Customers want to spend their money in ways that align with their values and self-interests. In short, you’ll find new customers and more loyal ones when you “shop small.”
  5. Meet spend targets (for government contractors). Get “credit” for your spending if your company is a government contractor

How to Engage as an Employee

Even if you don’t work in corporate procurement, you can play a role in your company’s supplier diversity program.

  • Ask your manager, executive, or procurement team about your company’s supplier diversity program. Do you have one? What are the goals?
  • When you sign a new contract with an existing vendor, ask them if they are certified as a diverse supplier. Follow up with your procurement team so your company gets “credit” for spending with a certified vendor.  
  • When you need to get bids from multiple vendors, contact your local Women’s Business Chamber, Minority Supplier Diversity Council, or other diversity-focused chambers of commerce. Ask them to help you solicit bids from their members.
  • Encourage small businesses in your area to seek certification. If your company buys goods or services in their category, invite them to register in your company’s vendor portal. You can go the extra mile by offering to make an introduction to an internal buyer, executive, or procurement specialist. 

Specific Supplier Recommendations

If you need help building out or improving your supplier diversity program, contact Vanessa Pennoyer at Go2Girl. She can help you define a strategy, set goals, or even find the right vendors for your company’s needs. Go2Girl is a certified Women’s Business Enterprise, so you’ll have a head start toward meeting your “diversity spend” goals!

And if you’re looking for a certified diverse supplier to help assess your company culture or to provide training on essential skills for inclusive leaders, please consider Lead at Any Level®. Lead at Any Level® is certified as a Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE), Woman Owned Small Business (WOSB), and LGBT Business Enterprise. We also hold certifications with the Indiana Department of Transportation and recently completed the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program!

Permission to Reprint

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Amy C. Waninger Author Bio

Amy C. Waninger is the Founder & CEO of Lead at Any Level, where she improves employee engagement and retention for companies that promote from within. Amy offers assessments, advisory services, and training on essential skills for inclusive leaders. She is the author of eight books. Learn more at www.LeadAtAnyLevel.com

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2 responses to “Diverse Suppliers: Why to Engage (and How!) [612 words]”
  1. […] only are we a certified diverse supplier, but we’ve also launched our own supplier diversity initiative. We’ve set goals for our vendor relationships, have begun tracking our […]

  2. […] leaders can positively impact every aspect of company performance. From sales and marketing to supply chain, from operational efficiency to talent retention, inclusive organizations enjoy a sustainable […]