Corporations, Supplier Diversity, and the definition of insanity

For many reading this, the idea of supplier diversity may be new to you. For others, you may be a seasoned expert taking a short walk around the internet. Either viewer is fine by me as long as you understand the purpose of this article.  That is to establish the notion that supplier diversity is a business strategy that only works if you want it to.

Like most business models, finding the sweet spot is difficult when you first start out. I’ve been in business for almost a decade and even I can say that it is always a challenge trying to expand whether internally or externally. Supplier Diversity is the same way. The truth about the strategy is that it is not a one stop solution. You will not develop a supplier diversity program, put out a bid, and find 100 qualified minority / women / veteran owned businesses in an instant. Creating and developing a successful program takes time. There will be hits and misses for sure, but there is no magic wand that will solve your outstanding issues.

In dealing with organizations, I have heard plenty of stories that begin with “why is our spend with minority, women, and veteran owned companies so low?” and end with “No we haven’t look for them, but they should come to us right?”

Simply conducting business as usually will always end the same. I’m sure many of you have heard the definition of insanity right? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. This is, unfortunately the status of many corporate supplier diversity programs. Sure corporations want them to be successful, but they also want to continue with their prior strategy and put as little resources as possible behind the program. The result is an underfunded and under performing program. Without the proper resources, metrics, and strategy, supplier diversity, like any other business strategy will fail. But for some reason when supplier diversity fails, its the suppliers fault and not said underfunded corporation.

Strategy’s take time, and so does supplier diversity. It is in my opinion that with the right resources, supplier diversity across the nation can be self running over the next 3 – 5 years if enough corporations collaborated and promoted the industry correctly. Unfortunately this is not, and most likely will not be the case. So just what is the solution then? Well, starting a conversation about resources. And not just money, but time put backing, promoting, and tracking supplier diversity and its effects. Once the appropriate amount of resources can be given, then there can be a proper expansion and growth of suppliers.