It is a universally acknowledged truth that where there is a successful, effective supplier diversity program, there is a C-suite committed to the success of that program. Supplier diversity professionals know that C-suite buy-in is crucial to building an inclusive supply chain, but how do you gain not just support but also passion for supplier diversity throughout your organization? Let’s break it down by position and talk about how you can show your company’s leadership how supplier diversity helps the business meet its goals and achieve bottom-line results.
CEO: A Vision for the Company
The CEO is concerned with the big picture of your organization, so you need to demonstrate how supplier diversity fits into that picture. If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to ensure that the goals of your supplier diversity program align with your company’s mission and corporate values.
How does your program benefit shareholders (think cost savings, competitiveness, innovation, capturing emerging markets, and so on)? How does supplier diversity enhance the company’s reputation with customers? How does the program’s economic impact support corporate social responsibility goals?
Rewrite your program’s mission statement and SMART goals to support the company’s broader mission and values, and then take that into your conversation with the CEO.
CFO: The Bottom Line
The CFO’s interest is no secret: They want to know how every program, initiative, new product, and marketing approach will benefit the company’s bottom line. Here is where you step beyond the traditional “social responsibility” and “it’s the right thing to do” approach and talk dollars and cents.
When talking with the CFO, emphasize how supplier diversity encourages innovation and reflects changing demographics, both of which lead to greater market share in emerging markets. What CFO isn’t interested in obtaining new customers? Back up that claim by enlisting a third-party market research firm to measure how a supplier diversity program influences both current and potential customers. What is the direct line between consumer knowledge of your supplier diversity program, your company’s reputation, and increased consumer loyalty?
You will also want to show how working with diverse suppliers helps mitigate potential risks; increases competition, leading to cost savings; and, when applicable, drives stronger stock performance. We talked more in depth about how to discuss supplier diversity with your CFO here.
COO: Strengthening Operations
Your COO is interested in efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and meeting deliverable goals. When preparing for a conversation with this executive, consider how partnering with diverse suppliers fosters innovation and increases the speed of innovation cycles. As our population demographics shift, diverse suppliers can help your company identify and create new products and services to meet the needs of emerging markets.
Talk about how this innovation increases your company’s competitiveness within the market in addition to promoting cost savings through competition between suppliers. If possible, show how working with diverse suppliers can streamline your supply chain for even greater efficiency and cost savings.
CPO: Teaming Up with Procurement
Most supplier diversity programs fall within the jurisdiction of the procurement department. It makes sense: Both are concerned with finding reliable vendors with innovative solutions and building vendor relationships to strengthen the supply chain. As such, supplier diversity and procurement should work as a team. Talk to your CPO about the department’s needs and goals, and then demonstrate how supplier diversity can help them meet those needs and goals.
Is your CPO seeking suppliers that can help the company increase market share or succeed in a highly competitive space? Show how diverse suppliers provide a competitive edge. Is your CPO concerned with streamlining the supply chain? Talk about how diverse suppliers are innovative and agile. Bring specific examples to the conversation. ASCEND powered by CVM Solutions helps identify and vet potential diverse suppliers, making it easier to find potential partners that can strengthen your supply chain.
CCO: Supporting Compliance
Supplier diversity programs may have originated as part of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, but they gained traction when the federal government began requiring that federal contractors meet certain diversity quotas.
Your CCO is likely already sold on the idea of supplier diversity to comply with federal regulations, so you should be working with them to gain further buy-in for your program from other members of the C-suite.
Consider the CCO an ally who can vouch for the need for supplier diversity to maintain eligibility for federal contracts. What reports and statistics can the CCO provide to show how supplier diversity is benefitting your company? If that information is not readily at hand, consider a data enrichment and analysis solution that simplifies tracking and reporting so you can easily access your supplier diversity data.
CMO: Effective Marketing
It’s impossible to ignore the demographic shift in this country, a shift that translates to a more diverse customer base than at any other time in history. A diverse supply chain gives your company a competitive edge in the new marketplace, one your marketing department should be capitalizing on with targeted campaigns. Capture those potential consumers by highlighting diverse suppliers in your marketing. Partnering with minority-, women-, LGBT-, veteran-, and disabled-owned companies can help you tap into emerging, diverse customer bases. An easy way to both strengthen your marketing and increase the number of diverse suppliers you work with is to enlist diverse-owned agencies to create and execute marketing strategies that speak directly to diverse communities.
Supplier diversity is no longer an afterthought or a minor initiative. Successful companies are leveraging diverse suppliers to stay competitive now and in the future, but the C-suite has to be fully committed to be effective. Prepare yourself with knowledge, insight, and data before talking to members of your C-suite about how supplier diversity benefits the entire organization.