supplier diversity managers and organizational culture

This article is part of a series on improving organizational culture through greater inclusion. It focuses specifically on the responsibility that Supplier Diversity Managers have in advancing this goal. For information on additional job roles discussed in this series, click here: C-Suite | Senior Management | Managers & Supervisors

The job of a Supplier Diversity Manager (SDM) is to develop relationships with diverse businesses and vendors, including organizations owned by minorities, veterans, and women. Achieving this goal requires attention to detail, integrity, networking skills, and a commitment to true diversity and inclusion that goes beyond filling quotas. 

Supplier Diversity is a major movement that has spread across the United States and Canada to provide equal opportunity for minority-owned businesses to partner with major corporations. As SDMs take a conscientious approach to the development and integration of under-used providers for their supply chains, they can simultaneously improve their organization’s competitive position and create a more fulfilled and engaged workforce.

Inclusion in Supply Chains Provides Perspective

At first glance, introducing a wider variety of providers into the supply chain might feel like too many cooks in the kitchen, and more to track and manage. But not doing so introduces greater risk to the organization. It is important for every business to be exposed to new products and services that hold the promise of revitalizing their current offerings. A diverse supply chain often leads to new business opportunities and a broader base of satisfied customers. Colleagues and business partners from across the world could introduce you to a new fuel source or resource from their region. Working with veterans could prompt ideas about how your business could better serve people who have experienced trauma. Including women and people in the LGBTQ+ community in your vendor list can inspire change and growth that a room full of similar people from similar backgrounds would never achieve.

Inclusion in Supply Chains Provides More Variety in Talent and Ability

It is important to create a supply chain that encompasses a diverse array of backgrounds and skillsets. Most business solutions are born from real-life experience, so companies will benefit from teams that have learned their trades through experience. It’s difficult for a company to grow in today’s economy if it does what it has always done consistently with the same sources it has always used. No matter how good they are, they cannot know everything or provide every resource needed in an ever-changing business climate.

Inclusion in Supply Chains Promotes Ethical Sourcing

As global warming changes our planet’s ecosystem, ethical sourcing in a supply chain is more important than ever. Diversifying your supply chains and including people from all walks of life will drastically improve your exposure to ethical businesses with efficient practices.

So how can you, as the Supplier Diversity Manager, provide your company with an array of diverse vendor options? Make sure you’ve done your research about the company before entering into contracts. Some good questions to ask about prospective vendors are:

  • Is their staff diverse in terms of race and ability?
  • Can they potentially help our organization change and improve?
  • Are women, veterans, and members of the LGBTQ+ community well represented in their organization?
  • Do they source and create their products ethically?
  • Are they working to decrease their carbon footprint, or to benefit specific communities?
  • Has their CEO or leadership ever been involved with questionable practices?
  • Do they have sound, complementary business practices?

These questions are just the beginning when it comes to diversifying your supply chain. For questions on how to get started on the journey to motivation and business growth, feel free to reach out!