Supplier diversity is a big buzzword in corporate marketing these days and with good reason. As a company, you want to show that you're socially conscious and that your buyers are putting capital into the hands of workers who have historically been left out of the conversation. You have seen how important it is to buy from minority-owned businesses, ones that are woman-owned, or ones located in historically disadvantaged areas—you want to be as inclusive as possible.
But what can you do? Is it enough to just treat everyone equally? That's not going to get you any positive press or help you attract the best talent to your company. How do you really go about this? There are three major ways that companies are stepping up their supplier diversity game:
They are expanding their pool of candidates so they can reach out to more diverse suppliers.
In order to increase supplier diversity, companies are expanding their pool of candidates so they can reach out to more diverse suppliers. It's a great strategy: if you're looking for people with a certain skill set, but only have access to people with a certain background, then it makes sense to broaden your search. This is why we've seen so many companies taking steps toward supplier diversity — from expanding their recruiting networks and in-house training programs to promoting suppliers that are owned by women and minorities.
But there's a problem with this approach. When you expand your pool beyond the usual suspects, you run the risk of diluting the quality of candidates by including people who are less qualified. This is why companies like Facebook and Google have taken steps to ensure that their broader hiring pools aren't just more diverse — they're also better qualified. The same principle applies when you're looking for suppliers: if you want your supply chain to be more diverse, then it makes sense to cast as wide a net as possible — but not so wide that you end up overlooking quality candidates.
They are giving priority status to diverse suppliers so they can build business relationships.
In the past few years, we've seen an increase in the number of companies that are building relationships with minority-owned businesses (MBEs). In fact, many organizations have made it a priority to diversify their supply chains by partnering with minority-owned firms. The reasons are simple: Companies want to partner with suppliers that can help them grow their businesses and deliver high-quality products and services.
Companies have also learned that minority-owned firms have unique strengths that can help them thrive in this competitive marketplace. For example, MBEs may be better able to adapt when conditions change — because they've had to do so as members of underrepresented groups. And many MBEs have developed innovative strategies for addressing challenges related to innovation, technology, and other factors affecting success today.
They are creating programs designed specifically for diverse suppliers to help them succeed in business.