Supplier Diversity is simple: it requires companies to take a look at the businesses they use as suppliers, and make conscious decisions to broaden the pool by using qualified minority-owned businesses.
I can already hear the arguments about preferential treatment, quotas and “needing to hire the best company for the job” (sound familiar?). It begs the question: how are companies picking their suppliers now? Could it be that they are choosing suppliers that they have done business with for years, companies they know, or a company they own themselves…?
I don’t know about you, but that sounds like preferential treatment to me, and not the meritocracy often used as an argument against diversity.
Suppliers are at the mercy of “the Old Boys Network” just as new hires and employees up for promotion – it’s not just what you know, but who you know. Supplier Diversity shines a light on this and asks companies to take a look at how they can contribute to diversifying their pool of suppliers – essentially giving companies owned by women, visible minorities, aboriginal people, people with disabilities and youth a foot in the door in a system that can be just as exclusive as hiring and promotion (both intentionally, and unintentionally).
Just like commitments to diversity and inclusion internally (hiring, mentorship, sponsorship, etc) supplier diversity brings opportunities for innovation, competitiveness and market knowledge.
Think of what you could be missing.
Copyright 2011 Annemarie Shrouder
author, speaker and facilitator on issues of diversity and inclusion
For more information, check out: Diversity Business Network , WEConnect and the Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council.