DiversityInc is one of the leading authorities and publishers in the workplace diversity space. Each year, the organization unveils its Top 50 Companies for Diversity—a comprehensive, prestigious list of businesses that excel at diversity. DiversityInc also publishes a list of the Top 11 Companies for Supplier Diversity, and not surprisingly, all 11 also appear on the Top 50 diversity list.
As the website states, these top 11 “utilize established best practices to achieve higher percentages of both Tier I (direct contractor) and Tier II (subcontractor) procurement with vendors owned by women, Blacks, Latinos, Asians, American Indians, LGBT individuals, people with disabilities and veterans with disabilities.” That may be the overarching criteria, but these companies share much more in common than a basic, though important, philosophy. Here are some of the high-level characteristics exhibited by these and other top organizations—principles that any business looking to improve their supplier diversity can strive to follow:
Diverse Hiring Practices
As already stated, these supplier diversity standouts also excel at overall diversity within their companies. Evidence of this can be seen in an internal commitment to diverse hiring practices, particularly in leadership and executive positions. Consider Kaiser Permanente, for which more than half of its management and professional workforce is diverse. Other top companies hired diverse staff at a rate higher than the average rate of the Top 50—impressive considering that the Top 50 are the best of the best when it comes to diversity philosophy. More diversity in key decision-making roles generally trickles down to a stronger commitment to contracting diverse suppliers.
Candid Discussions About Diversity
Even this deep into the 2010s, diversity remains a tricky topic for companies to approach, much less discuss. The organizations sporting the top supplier diversity programs don’t shy away from talking about diversity and have developed innovative ways to bring issues to the forefront. For example, Dell (No. 1 on the Top 11 list) participates in the Men Advocating Real Change (MARC) initiative, which “is dedicated to encouraging traditionally non-diverse individuals to advocate for and commit to diversity.” Supplier diversity programs inevitably benefit from candid approaches because top to bottom, companies recognize the value of diversity both internally and with the vendors they contract.
Creative Approaches for Recruiting Diverse Suppliers
In our 2017 State of Supplier Diversity Report — Supplier Diversity Programs, we offered survey respondents five options of how they find diverse suppliers (certification agencies, third-party providers, Google searches, other diverse suppliers, and “other”); participants could choose more than one option. The results were illuminating: 30 percent of respondents used only one method, and just 7 percent picked all five. Top supplier diversity programs aren’t afraid to be creative in finding and developing partners. For example, Accenture instituted its Diverse Supplier Development Program in 2005 and has formally developed 129 suppliers in that time.
Supplier Diversity Goals Tied to Compensation
Many companies in the Top 50 place such an emphasis on achieving diversity goals that they tie executive compensation to the effort. This strategy, which often extends to supplier diversity programs, not only provides additional incentive to hit supplier diversity goals, but also reinforces that diversity is crucial for maintaining and improving a company's bottom line.
Outstanding Procurement Numbers
Across the board, the companies in the Top 11 reported better supplier diversity procurement numbers than other honorees on DiversityInc’s Top 50 list. And again, remember, the overall list isn’t made up of run-of-the-mill companies but businesses fully committed to diversity—so the Top 11 clearly reflect the best of the best in supplier diversity terms. This success includes Tier 2 spend, which requires some added effort but can yield dynamic results.
Raw data aside, top supplier diversity programs go above and beyond to contract and develop diverse suppliers, and their diligence pays off financially, culturally, and philosophically. These industry leaders offer a terrific blueprint for other organizations striving to advance their own supplier diversity goals.
What unique ways does your organization promote diversity?