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Supplier Diversity Blog by supplier.io

8 Ways to Market and Advocate for Supplier Diversity


Companies that have a formal supplier diversity program want others to know about it for multiple reasons. Consumers and shareholders want the companies they buy from and work for to share their social values. This is most demonstrably achieved by investing in a diverse workforce and a diverse supply base. 

According to the 2021 State of Supplier Diversity report, 73 percent of respondents believe engaging with diverse suppliers has a positive impact on their company internally as well as out in the wider marketplace. In addition, 58 percent of companies are tracking the impact of supplier diversity programs on their brand reputation. 

Spreading the word that a company has a vibrant supplier diversity program is good for their business, but the effort should be good for minority-owned suppliers’ businesses as well. 

There are many ways that corporations can take a marketing-driven approach to advocate for the overarching principles of supplier diversity and support individual minority-owned businesses as well. Doing so enriches the entire supply chain ecosystem and may even help the supplier diversity program expand.

Here are eight recommendations for marketing and advocating for supplier diversity: 

1. Promote the existence of your supplier diversity program. 

This effort should include information about the mission, vision, goals, objectives, and how suppliers can sign up and express their interest. Many companies have a dedicated webpage that provides an overview of their program and a clear call to action for suppliers.

2. Hold virtual open houses for diverse suppliers so they can learn more about your program.

This provides an opportunity for minority-owned businesses considering participating in an RFP or other form of business opportunity to get to know the diversity representative(s) and/or procurement team and hear how their goals align with the overall culture of your company.

3. Ensure that your supplier diversity program manager is active on professional social networking sites. 

Not only will this help get the word out about the fact that you have one or more dedicated representatives advocating for supplier diversity, but they may also uncover resources and opportunities that diversity managers in other companies or industries know about.

4. Work with the certifying organizations on their networking and matchmaking events and conferences. 

Groups such as the National Minority Supplier Diversity Council, Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, National Veteran-Owned Business Association, National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, and Disability:IN regularly run events to bring certified suppliers and buy-side companies together. This is an opportunity to discover new suppliers and to learn about the latest trends and developments in each specialized community.

5. Be referenceable for the diverse-owned businesses that win contracts with your company.

In some cases, advocating for supplier diversity means helping those suppliers win business in addition to your own. If you are pleased with their performance, let them use your corporate logo, participate in a case study, or provide them with a testimonial they can use in their business development efforts. The cost to you is minimal, but the benefit to them is enormous.

6. Offer constructive, actionable advice for diverse-owned businesses that submit bids but aren’t selected for contracts. 

One of the hardest parts of procurement’s job is communicating with suppliers that take the time and make the effort to submit a proposal but do not receive any business. This task becomes even harder when the company recruited the supplier and encouraged them to participate, as often happens with minority-owned businesses. There are no participation trophies in business, but the more specific the feedback you can provide suppliers with, the better positioned they will be to win the next round, whether that is with your company or another. 

7. Offer constructive, actionable advice for diverse-owned businesses that are selected for contracts! 

Yes, even suppliers that are awarded a contract need feedback and opportunities to develop. This is particularly true when the corporation decides to take a chance and allocate a portion of the spending as a diversity carve-out. Over time, they will learn and grow, and their solution will strengthen, requiring fewer and fewer chances to be taken.

8. Be as transparent about the progress and impact of your supplier diversity program as you are about the fact that the program exists. 

As we have discussed, there are measurable benefits to having an active supplier diversity program. Corporations benefiting from this dynamic have an obligation to hold themselves accountable and report not only on their progress with minority-owned businesses but also the economic impact their spending is having.

Advocacy takes many forms, and at least some of that energy should directly benefit the suppliers helping corporations to expand their capabilities and satisfy the demands of consumers and shareholders. From inclusion and development to testimonials and accountability, a corporation can support the minority-owned businesses in their ecosystem in a creative range of ways.

Read the full 2021 State of Supplier Diversity report.

The Supplier Diversity Metrics You Need Now


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The team has a long history in driving innovative solutions in supplier diversity. We believe that companies deserve solutions that are effective and provide measurable value and results. Started more than a decade ago, supplier.io has rapidly become a prominent provider of supplier diversity solutions to leading corporations. We currently support customers in automotive, healthcare, insurance, retail, manufacturing, education, and banking. One in five Fortune 50 company relies on supplier.io.