When thinking about your diversity and inclusion strategy, it’s commonplace to start with what’s most present in your day-to-day – your employees. The people that work with and for you are top of mind and you want to ensure that they are reflective of the country, your market, and your customers (current and future), and that they feel a sense of belonging when they come to work every day.
What may be less apparent is how you think about your procurement processes. Many of us, especially smaller companies, may be moving so fast, it’s hard to stop and think about who we’re buying from – but just as we might think about our personal responsibility when shopping, it’s worth taking a beat and thinking about who we’re buying from as a company.
As a certified B Corp, we do our very best to pay attention to who we’re purchasing from, whether it’s our business cards, food vendors, or contractors. The common term for this is “supplier diversity”. This means that companies are actively choosing to purchase from “minority-owned, women owned, veteran owned, LGBT-owned, service disabled veteran owned, historically underutilized business, and Small Business Administration (SBA)-defined small” businesses.
A quick note on language: we generally don’t advocate for calling people “diverse”, as one person in and of themselves cannot be diverse. When you hear people being described as such, that usually indicates an underlying concern around who and what is being positioned as the default, and Others those people. We also prefer to use “underrepresented” as opposed to “minorities”, as the use of ‘minority’ can imply inferiority. In this article and in this space, we will be referring to supplier diversity as an indicator of whether a vendor or enterprise is women-owned or minority-owned, since that is the currently utilized shorthand for these types of businesses.
Many large companies have supplier diversity programs in place because they understand that there are some pretty amazing benefits:
If you’re curious about how to get your company involved, but feel as though this is out of your purview, here’s a great article from a woman who advocated for a supplier diversity program at Facebook and got it. If you do have the power to make some changes, here are some suggestions to get started:
If you’ve implemented a supplier diversity program or have other thoughts or questions about this article, we’d love to hear from you!
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