We recently conducted a survey of supplier diversity professionals and asked them what the primary drivers of their programs were. Corporate social responsibility was cited as the top reason at 74 percent (respondents could choose more than one answer), followed by alignment with corporate culture and workforce inclusiveness at 64 percent, customer requirements at 61 percent, and government compliance at 49 percent.
Organizations trying to initiate or bolster their supplier diversity efforts are likely well aware of these drivers and others that strengthen their vendor portfolios. However, many struggle to secure the necessary resources, especially man-hours, to make a formal supplier diversity program happen. These companies might turn to an alternative to achieve the supplier diversity success they seek: supplier management services.
With supplier management services, companies tab skilled consultants to handle the nuts and bolts of a supplier diversity initiative. Someone internally may still be responsible for the organization’s supplier diversity, but this person is getting help from expert providers that know the space. If this sounds like a viable option for your business, here are some things to look for when choosing supplier management services:
For novices attempting to start or strengthen their organizations’ programs, supplier diversity can be surprisingly complex. This may ramp up the difficulty level and leads to many companies simply abandoning their diversity efforts. Supplier management services fill in the gaps with experience and competence, thus pointing companies in the right direction toward achieving a more diverse supplier portfolio. Such expertise helps nascent programs create goals and establish baselines and assists struggling programs reach the next level. Moreover, the best consultants already work with some of the top supplier diversity programs and know where supplier diversity is currently and where it’s headed, thus helping clients stay ahead of the curve.
Outstanding Supplier Data
Another problem that companies run into when building their supplier diversity initiatives is that the data they rely on is often incomplete, inaccurate, or simply nonexistent. These organizations struggle with establishing any sort of baseline to build goals from, and the information they do have may be out of date, such as the current diversity status of a supplier that, for example, may no longer be minority-owned. Moreover, diverse spend becomes difficult to track. The best supplier management services—and the software solutions they produce—offer the best data to help supplier diversity programs set baselines, identify return on investment, chart both Tier 1 and Tier 2 spend, measure results, and accurately report on suppliers.
Positive Supplier Relationships
Quality supplier management services already have established strong relationships not only with existing supplier diversity programs but also with diverse businesses and the organizations that certify those suppliers. That experience translates into a deep knowledge of the supplier diversity space and strong recommendations about which diverse suppliers may be the best fit for your organization. Top supplier management services have already done much of the legwork, which ultimately can benefit your diverse supplier portfolio and the bottom line.
Ah, the bottom line—an additional driver of supplier diversity that cannot be overlooked. We’ve already referenced how supplier management services can help identify ROI; more important, the best partners can help you achieve that ROI in the first place. Partners that provide a unified platform to tie in all aspects of supplier diversity (including diverse supplier solutions, such as our new ASCEND platform, that offer even better access to suppliers) streamline the entire process for you and your program. This optimizes your costs while still letting you reap the other benefits that supplier management services provide every step of the way.
Have you considered using supplier management services for your diversity program?