Expectations from organisations have risen in the post-pandemic era. The interest of investorand consumer in environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors such as diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) has increased as they have become more aware of organisation’s social responsibilities.
DE&I often falls under the "social" pillar of ESG. Investors are now focusing more at this sector as they integrate ESG factors into their investment decisions. Investors, business partners, and customers expect organisations to be transparent about their diversity initiatives, measurements, and KPIs. They anticipate that businesses will have positive effects on DE&I through their internal and external supply chains, policies, practices, and behaviours.
Organisations are searching for novel approaches to creating an inclusive environment, not just within the company but in the communities too as it helps enhance brand value and build customer loyalty. The traditional way has been to recruit employees with diverse backgrounds to ensure fair representation. However, this comes with certain limitations as well.
A supplier diversity programme, which is when companies promote the use of businesses owned and operated by at least 51per cent of a traditionally underrepresented group, such as women, veterans, people with disabilities, the LGBTQ community, and others, as suppliers, is one way to broaden the scope of diversity goals.
Supplier diversity is a business strategy that guarantees a broad supplier base when any company or organisation purchases products and services. It focuses on developing a diverse supply chain that seeks to ensure that various groups are taken into account in the procurement strategies of the organisation. Programmes to promote supplier diversity foster employment creation and boost the economy in underrepresented segments, leading to a more egalitarian world. This leads to the financial sustainability and revival of diverse communities.
Working with diverse suppliers can also lead to fresh perspectives and insights, along with the introduction of innovative solutions. It opens up new channels for networking and attracting new customers. A smaller, more diverse supplier has a higher likelihood of developing into a close partnership. Through supplier diversity initiatives, organisations can connect with prospective stakeholders, increasing their chances of expanding into new areas and attracting new clients. Their smaller structure makes them more agile, leading to a faster rate of innovation.
Organisations can reap benefits of this because, if they stick with their larger, more established suppliers, they would not be exposed to the broad spectrum of innovation that comes from having varied supplier relationships. If you're attempting to establish new partnerships, opening your network up to a wider variety of businesses will help you connect with special talent that you might have otherwise overlooked.
Supplier diversity programmes are also a selling point when hiring. Organisations can increase their recruiting reach by doing business with companies owned by women, minorities, and veterans. For example, companies interested in recruiting and hiring veterans can gain a competitive advantage by including veteran-owned small businesses in their supplier diversity programmes.
A strong, diverse supplier base requires dedication and cooperation from all levels of the organisation. When designing supplier diversity programmes, it is critical to determine which goals to prioritise to improve diversity: to prioritise the type of diversity to integrate into the organisation's supply chain or the scale of implementation. It is essential to formulate policy statements defining these groups after the targets have been defined so that internal stakeholders and clients will know what to look for and how to assess new vendors.
The commitment to supplier diversity needs to start at the very top of the organisation and should trickle down from the top to the bottom. Supplier diversity must be appreciated by all parties involved, both internal and external, as well as why it is necessary, what it will look like, and how it will affect society and the economy. Once there is buy-in from the CEO, the next goal would be to appoint a senior manager to lead the supplier diversity programme. This person should overlook corporate purchasing.
Additionally, it would be beneficial to identify diversity champions within the organisation to increase awareness and support among peer groups. Above all, it is crucial to educate employees and business partners about the advantages and business imperative of boosting supplier diversity via an effective supplier training programme offering concrete actions important for suppliers. They not only provide stakeholders with access to finance, assist them in developing their capabilities, and make organisations more "contract-ready," but they also offer first exposure to cutting-edge and emerging businesses.
Supplier referral programmes are one quick win in this category. Employees who can refer good vendors will be rewarded based on their criticality and offerings once the suppliers have joined the system. Once these programmes are established, it is crucial to keep an eye on them and make changes as needed. Annual audits assist in ensuring actions and outcomes match the organisation’s strategies and objectives. Feedback from both internal stakeholders and outside suppliers is vital to ensuring everyone across the supply chain meets expectations. In the end, it is important to highlight the programme's success stories to maintain momentum and pride in the organisation.
To conclude, making concrete efforts to increase diversity in an organisation's supply chain will not only result in a larger pool of potential suppliers for business but will also support economic growth. Dedication to diversity and humanitarian causes on the part of your business will boost its desirability and loyalty.
Above all, it demonstrates that the organisation values giving back to the neighbourhood, which helps it thrive, and it establishes a standard of generosity that may be fostered moving forward.
Diversity and inclusion go beyond human resources. It needs to penetrate every aspect of the business. Utilising a variety of suppliers will demonstrate your company's commitment to corporate responsibility and ethical sourcing as consumers become more aware of where their food originates from. Setting a good example will lead to improvements in the business sector.