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5 Tips to Developing a Supplier Diversity Strategy

Source: The New Supply Chain Agenda, Reuben E. Slone, J. Paul Dittmann, John T. Mentzer Harvard Business Press

Pick the Right Leaders (Team) and Develop Supply Chain Talent

Developing talent to lead a supplier diversity program means looking for people who have a strong supply chain, engineering and/or finance background.  While these people can be found in other organizations who have had a successful program, it is important not to overlook internal resources with those talents.  They’d know how to weave supplier diversity into the company culture and become indispensable member of the team.  

Keep Up With Supply Chain Technologies and Trends

When thinking about how technology will support your supplier diversity initiatives, you must go beyond supplier diversity software.  It is important to understand how all technology interfaces with supplier diversity so that you can seek to integrate supplier diversity with company-critical technologies and platforms as needed.  Also, remember that technology will not solve problems—processes and people do.

Eliminate Crippling Cross-Functional Disconnects

The biggest challenge for supplier diversity professions is quickly becoming a silo within the organization.  In order to avoid this, it is critical that metrics are developed that align with the company’s supply chain, marketing, operations and other key functions within the organizations.  Steering committees help play a key role in addressing cross functional issues; however, the support of senior leadership cannot go missing.

Collaborate with Suppliers and Customers

World-class supplier diversity initiatives have active collaboration with their leading MBE suppliers.  MBE suppliers are not only at the core of a supplier diversity program, they also serve as advocates and as a fountain of new ideas.  On the other hand, knowing the needs of your customers not only helps to better align MBEs with key projects, but further serves as a compelling rationale for capacity-building programs.

Implement a Disciplined Process of Project and Change Management

When it comes to process and results, supplier diversity is not the same as supply chain management.  Its analysis covers longer timeframes, lives in a broader context and must be driven by leadership.  That said, processes to mitigate risk and manage change must not only be supported by senior leadership, but must also encompass a global environment.