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Supplier Diversity Programs: How to Get Started

Business leaders have a lot of questions about how to diversify their supply chain—but not as many answers as they’d like. To bridge that gap, here are some ways you can support your supplier diversity program.

1. Be proactive.

Most of us understand how important diversity is to sustaining a well-balanced society, and savvy businesspeople apply this understanding to the business world. Despite these efforts, it is still a challenge to connect buyers with minority-owned suppliers.

To build relationships with minority-, LGBTQ-, veteran-, and women-owned businesses, you have to be proactive. Here are some resources from minority-owned businesses that can help:

2. Know your history.

It’s one thing to make an effort to diversify your procurement network—it’s quite another to understand why. If you earnestly want to support a supplier diversity program in your department, educate yourself as much as possible. With a complete understanding of your need to diversify, you’ll make a more meaningful impact. You can watch the first of many videos from the National Minority Supplier Development Council here.

3. Build for the future.

Diverse suppliers don’t need to make up 100 percent of your supplier network, but they should be a part of your overall supplier strategy. Our advice? Establish benchmarks based on your areas of need. For example, what’s your diversity spend today? What is your supplier diversity goal in 2022? How about three to five years from now?

It will be helpful to take a good look at your practices and then take action. To do so, determine which areas of spend give your organization the best opportunity to diversify your workforce, improve the quality of your sourced materials, and deliver premium products or services.

We also recommend working with local diversity groups to source diverse suppliers in your area. According to a supplier diversity report by The Hackett Group, successful companies “develop supplier partnerships, mentor local suppliers, collaborate with suppliers on product innovation, and share their experiences with other companies.”

4. Remain patient and committed.

Your organization’s present corporate culture was formed over years—or even decades—and change won’t happen overnight. When trying to make an enterprise-wide cultural change, it’s extremely important to be patient throughout the process. A cultural transformation takes time and a commitment from your entire company—no matter how long the process—from top to bottom. Broadleaf has witnessed many programs fall by the wayside due to a lack of continuous focus. Having consistent and committed executive sponsorship has proven to be instrumental in the success of supplier diversity programs.

Of course, it couldn’t hurt to work with industry experts from a well-established company such as Broadleaf. With decades of experience and a focus on the growing need for supplier diversification, we can help you achieve your diversity goals today. Interested? Contact us today!

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