One of the most important ways an organization can concretely enhance its commitment to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) is as a consumer of products and services. Where and how an organization spends its money matters, particularly when the spend actualizes elevation and opportunities to suppliers of underserved communities. For supplier diversity to be impactful, initiatives need to be widespread and institutionalized. For the impact to be felt, supplier diversity needs to be tracked, analyzed, and improved, and the story of the data needs to be shared with all stakeholders.
For a business to better understand the true functionality of its commitment and program, the Laisar Assessment™ is an integrative process that looks at the entire organization to evaluate supplier diversity, often revealing new insights into what makes the organization as a whole run. The assessment also helps a company get better insight into its sustainability initiatives — knowing that supplier diversity success can help to move the needle forward with sustainability efforts. A multi-part program, the Laisar Assessment™ begins with five important areas.
While supplier diversity is the focus of the Laisar Assessment™, an overall commitment to diversity must also manifest in the organization. The assessment begins by looking at fundamental indicators of DEI, including a dedicated owner in the C-Suite, the presence of Employee Resource Groups, the existence of a Diversity Council with representatives from each department, and diversity at the board level.
It is not enough to claim a commitment to DEI; an organization must also demonstrate that it does more than pay lip service. The Laisar Assessment™ looks for indicators of intentional contribution to systemic change, collecting and analyzing data to look for impasses and opportunities. In analyzing supplier diversity, the assessment asks whether the organization is ahead of clients and industry in its initiatives and whether it is meeting or exceeding stakeholder expectations on diversity, including employees, shareholders, and the communities where the business is located. Supplier diversity, like other DEI initiatives, has inertial properties, so telling a convincing story of DEI leads to further development.
3. Culture and Structure
To be successful, supplier diversity has both vertical and horizontal imperatives. Involvement has to be top-down as well as across silos. DEI in supplier diversity can’t be relegated to a single champion or department to succeed. The Laisar Assessment™ looks to indicators that the culture and structure are infused with a DEI supplier diversity imperative, including buy-in from the entire Leadership Team, tie-ins to budget and compensation, and integration into annual spend goals and the planning process. Structural components can include a centralized procurement team empowered to implement supplier diversity initiatives.
Recognition is a powerful motivator for the continued success of any program, and supplier diversity is no different. The Laisar Assessment™ investigates the institutional mechanisms of reporting back on the accomplishments in this area. Does the report tell the story of the impact of supplier diversity? Are champions called out and rewarded for their efforts? The assessment asks how participation is incentivized and how achievements are called out. This is not limited to internal efforts; external recognition by the organization and of the organization by third parties is included in the analysis.
5. Supplier Diversity Access
As a data-rich environment to measure accomplishments and accountability in DEI, supplier diversity needs to have specific institutional anchors to maximize success. The Laisar Assessment™ scrutinizes access to supplier diversity opportunities for vendors through the corporate website and structured application processes. Apart from opening these avenues, does the organization capture and track diversity data for all its suppliers, including focusing on multi-tier diversity? To what extent are RFPs used for suppliers, and is diversity data integrated into this process? Finally, the assessment looks at controls for diversity, including a periodic collection of diversity certifications.
A multi-part, cross-layered look at an organization to determine supplier diversity can reveal some unexpected insights, not only about existing and unreported diversity but also other issues that the process may clarify. The Laisar Assessment™ is intended for organizations to realize the full potential of a robust supplier diversity program by harnessing the power and impact of the data to tell the story of DEI. The depth and breadth of the process have the capacity to go beyond DEI to reflect corporate culture and enhance and reveal the socio-economic impact a business can have in the communities where it lives and works If your organization is interested in taking its supplier diversity initiative to the next level, contact us to learn more about getting an assessment.
About Florence Amate
Florence Amate will be speaking on this issue of Storytelling for Socio-Economic Impact at the National Minority Supplier Diversity Council Conference in New Orleans, LA, October 30-November 2, 2022. You can register to hear her speak.
Florence Amate is the Founder and President of Laisar Management Group. A management consulting company based in Silver Spring, Maryland, that is helping organizations rethink the role Supplier Diversity and Sustainability plays in their overall business strategy. Organizations in every industry have relied on Florence and her team to shape their community engagement and sustainability strategies.
Florence’s belief that companies are stronger when they take the time to understand their common interest within the communities, they choose to operate has been evident in the projects she has worked on over the last 12 years. Since 2011, she has successfully developed and managed economic and workforce inclusion solutions utilizing various proprietary business and data analytics applications. Organizations have embraced how internal and external data can be used to improve their bottom line, tell their story and build stronger and more vibrant communities.
Laisar provides supplier diversity, sustainability services and solutions. Laisar’s innovative, and integrated solutions for economic inclusion and workforce utilization, shapes community engagement and overall corporate strategies. We work with clients to develop and execute programs that bring socio-economic benefits to the communities where they live, work and play.
By Florence Amate published on Medium on October 26, 2022, 5mn read.
Photos: iStock Images.