For the third year in a row, we surveyed supplier diversity professionals and diverse suppliers across an array of industries. By asking them about their successes, trials, and tribulations, we aimed to learn more about the state of supplier diversity and what progress still needs to be made. The survey includes multiple-choice and open-response questions—it’s often the latter that are the most revealing.
In our 2019 Supplier Diversity Reports, we received hundreds of responses from supplier diversity professionals and diverse suppliers alike. Below, we’ve shared some of our favorite quotes about the impact supplier diversity initiatives are having on their business.
Q: As a supplier diversity professional, what is your favorite supplier diversity success story?
A: A diverse supplier came into my office to meet with me. We discussed the type of business they had, and I picked up the phone and called the Buyer in Purchasing. He took their information and two weeks later the supplier received a purchase order. She was so thankful that I took the time to make that phone call.
A: An increased focus on supplier diversity has yielded growth from about 6 percent of addressable spending in 2009 to 13 percent in 2017—over $180 million spent within that time frame, more than half of that amount spent since 2014.
A: It’s very exciting to see a supplier that has been trying for three, four, even five years to find a growth opportunity be given the chance to become one of our premier suppliers. These success stories are what make working in this field so rewarding.
A: At my company supplier diversity was known but unknown. I challenged myself my second year on the job to develop a mentor-protégé program. Instead of teaching a small business how to be like their larger competitor, it was based on taking a larger small business and vetting out their resources so that I could pair them with a small business with similar needs. This program was highly successful and we plan to launch it in our other divisions.
A: In December 2017, we implemented a supplier diversity strategic plan with a utilization goal of 13 to 20 percent. We are proud to report that in less than one year, we have a diverse spend of $27 million with 7.8 percent of total spend with diverse suppliers. This proves that we are on track with its strategic plan and we can't wait to see more growth.
A: In the three years I've been doing this, I've been able to double our percentage of diversity spend—mostly by correctly identifying and updating vendors.
Q: As a supplier diversity professional, what do you enjoy most about supplier diversity?
A: I enjoy educating people within my company about the supplier diversity field and the impact that we can have on small and diverse suppliers if we just take the time to strategically plan opportunities. I also enjoy working with diverse suppliers and contractors. Over the years, I have watched many of them continue to develop into strong businesses. Knowing that I impacted their growth and development is very rewarding.
A: I appreciate the opportunity to tap into a different facet of sourcing and demonstrate how doing so provides more value to an organization than just cost savings and contract negotiation. We are able to bring innovation, customer partnership, and ultimately we can make a huge impact on our economies (local and national), which is good for everyone. I also really enjoy learning about new diverse businesses and the passion that drives them.
A: I believe in diversity of all types. I also like that supplier diversity provides the opportunity to work with colleagues at all levels, divisions, and functional groups within the company. We work with purchasing, sales, and executives—and have direct contact with customers.
Q: As a diverse supplier, what do you enjoy most about participating in supplier diversity initiatives?
A: I love that it provides us an opportunity to work with larger corporations. It helps us get a seat at the table, but from there on out, it's up to us to win the business and prove ourselves. It gives us great networking opportunities to connect with other WBEs, MBEs, etc.
A: Supplier diversity initiatives have given us the opportunity to secure introductions to some of the largest firms, which has in turn allowed us to impact their workforce and increase diversity in their supply chain.
A: I appreciate the opportunity to prove that minority-owned firms are extremely capable and can provide excellent customer service and high quality products/equipment when given the chance to compete in a fair market.
A: Certifying my business was an amazing transformation, 80 percent of our revenue is now generated through supplier diversity initiatives. This has changed my company and thus changed my life, I am very grateful.
A: Supplier diversity initiatives have helped me to create opportunities to grow my business that I could never have dreamed of. And I've made a number of great friends along the way.
Q: What changes would you like to see in the supplier diversity field in the next three to five years?
A: The vast majority of diverse suppliers tend to be clustered in certain spaces such as staffing, IT, and transportation. We need to identify ways to develop diverse suppliers in other areas, especially in manufacturing. Also, we need to engage the next generation of business owners, educate them on the resources available to them, tap into their ideas on where supplier diversity should go next, and get them involved.
A: We need more global and economic impact discussions, and more stories highlighting contributions of diverse suppliers to corporate and other supply chains. By promoting the top 100 diverse suppliers in key industry categories, we could streamline and facilitate research and education efforts.
A: I would love to see supplier diversity become an automatic frame of mind for all employees at every organization.
For more insider insight into how supplier diversity programs are revolutionizing business practices and inspiring unilateral growth, download the full 2019 Supplier Diversity Reports below.