Companies are increasingly recognizing the value of incorporating underrepresented communities on a variety of levels. Today’s workforce values employers who show a commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). For younger workers seeking employment, diversity and inclusion are a requirement. DEI generally refers to various initiatives with an internal focus on workforce and board diversity. Supplier diversity applies an external lens aimed at engaging companies from underrepresented and local communities to provide a company the products and services it needs. While related and interconnected, DEI and Supplier Diversity initiatives often involve different approaches and management by different organizational silos. This separation misses out on major opportunities to achieve and demonstrate progress.
Rather than dividing the concepts, companies should consider utilizing the term and concept of “business diversity” to align the DEI and the strategic sourcing teams, allowing them to work together on an integrated solution to communicate, promote and enforce the various initiatives. This strategy opens up opportunities and increases a company’s ability to demonstrate socio-economic impact within and outside of the organization. A robust company program that includes the concrete data available in a supplier diversity program demonstrates a genuine commitment that is critical to workforce recruitment.
Here are some actions that your organization can take that will show your employees, leadership, and communities that you are serious about closing the wealth gap, creating opportunities, and tapping into the additional benefits offered by diversity.
1. DEI and Supplier Diversity should work closely with the Employee Resource Groups to understand their respective strategies. Employees are the biggest ambassadors in a community, and they can act as recruiters for the workforce and supply chain.
2. From a workforce development perspective, an excellent strategy allows employees to participate in aspects of supplier diversity by offering incentives for identifying and facilitating supplier diversity, and other initiatives to support and foster employees from diverse backgrounds.
3. DEI and Supplier Diversity departments should identify individual champions to help promote their work. Oftentimes, the people with the greatest influence are those that do not belong to the underrepresented group and can champion the various initiatives and causes.
4. Align sustainability, DEI and supplier diversity programs as a win for the company and a win for the community
5. Cross report and promote DEI and Supplier Diversity as Business Diversity to measure overall organizational success. Often workforce initiatives take time to develop and implement successfully, whereas supplier diversity can easily be measured by various criteria with data readily available for analysis and reporting. This offers an immediate opportunity to demonstrate commitment to diversity with objective metrics.
6. Be creative and multi-layered in Business Diversity initiatives. Track the tiers of the supply chain to leverage the purchasing power of your company to encourage suppliers to use diverse-owned businesses for their own needs. The expanding sphere of influence increases the likelihood of opportunities for small, locally owned businesses.
7. Incorporate Business Diversity into the recruitment process by engaging the creativity and motivation of existing and potential employees
a. Provide incentives for diversity recruitment to the board, workforce and supply chain
b. Incorporate Business Diversity in the recruitment process by specifically asking prospective suppliers, employees, and board members what they want to see and what they would propose to advance Business Diversity
c. Celebrate achievements of specific milestones and highlight the contributions and achievements of diverse people and businesses.
d. Publicize the existence of Business Diversity by making the various initiatives readily available to the public. For example, ERG contact information and Business Diversity incentive programs should be included in the recruitment section of a company website.
8. Include a focus on local and small businesses in the Supplier Diversity strategy to increase company presence and contribution to the community where the workforce lives.
When DEI and Supplier Diversity are aligned and integrated into a single Business Diversity initiative, the cooperation and coordination opens up new avenues for a company to put its commitment to diversity into practice. This allows for more and measurable success, which generates additional momentum.
By Florence Amate published on Medium on July 22, 2022, 3mn read.