So why does your business need a supplier diversity program? It seems an easy enough question, but it is worth exploring some of the reasons supplier diversity can be a boon to corporations that can fuel growth, productivity, innovation and corporate values. Here are 5 reasons to consider:
1. It Is Good for Business
This is an easy consideration. Whether you manufacture soap, sell printing services or distribute computer components, your customer base is likely to comprise a diverse set of consumers and businesses. When your customers understand that the company is in tune with their needs and make the products and deliver the services that they buy, they are more than likely to provide greater support to your business. Your brand will benefit because you are advancing your market presence and enhancing your commitment to local communities’ economic growth and well being.
2. It Reflects Your Corporate Values
As population demographics are shifting, companies understand that diversity and inclusion are integral to the culture of a business. As most businesses know, one key measure for business success is the ability to attract and retain talent. Having a fully functioning supplier diversity program--where opportunities are presented to diverse firms that offer bottom-line business value to your supply chain--is one way to show prospective employees and other stakeholders that your company indeed does value diversity and inclusion. This article offers some ideas on how to think about diversity and inclusion as well as how high-performing companies benefit from the practice.
3. It Is Good for Innovation
In business, innovation means taking ideas and inventions and turning them into goods and services. Often, innovation is spurred by your business partners and suppliers, and these same partners and suppliers are the ones who can help you build a better mousetrap. But unless you have a diverse supply base of partners with different ideas, perspectives, backgrounds and experience, how you innovate at your company could be enhanced if you’re looking at the world with a multiple, rather than singular, prism. What also should not be lost about innovation is that corporations rely on developing innovative processes to create competitive environments that ultimately can drive efficiencies, lower prices and decrease costs. Diverse suppliers can be a key part of this paradigm because they must innovate to stay in business and grow. Give them the chance, and they gladly will seek solutions. Here is a U.S. Department of Commerce report that highlights why innovation is critical to today’s supply chains.
4. You Raise Your Corporate Profile
While supplier diversity has evolved from that of a corporate altruistic endeavor to one of a business imperative, when your company can help diverse firms grow and succeed it puts your company in a very favorable light with a plethora of stakeholders, including elected officials, regulators, consumers, the media and peers. The federal government takes small and minority business seriously, as highlighted by programs such as MEDWeek, which recognizes diversity business advocates and celebrates minority business enterprise. As your supplier diversity program develops, your exposure increases as you get out to industry events, trade shows, opportunity fairs and the like in order to recruit diverse new suppliers as well as talk shop and exchange best practices with other firms and advocates. Showing that you value diversity in your business dealings that come with gender, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disabilities and religious identity differences means your organization indeed will be viewed favorably.
5. You Align with the Business and Corporate Values of Your Partners
This consideration is most vital because it could literally mean the difference between winning and losing business. What if your most important corporate customer has a vibrant and successful supplier diversity program? What if you don’t? Obviously, diversity and inclusion are vital to your corporate customer, and you lack alignment with a major account. Surely, corporations want to know that their business partners are fully in sync with their corporate values. If you are not, be wary, as that partner may seek out other partners who are. Just as with sponsors, if something is out of line, they typically pull out to protect their brands. Corporate alignment is critical.