Do You Know the Difference Between Strategic Sourcing & Category Management – It’s Time for a Supplier Diversity Refresh

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First, I hope you are all staying healthy and safe.  Since March we have been dealing with two major global crises – COVID 19 and severe social unrest.  As Strategic Sourcing & Supply Chain professionals we have been struggling with how to help our organizations deal with all the Supply Chain issues associated with COVID.  Thousands of articles, blog posts, podcasts, etc. have been published on this very topic to the point where a day does not go by where we don’t receive at least a dozen or so emails on the subject and there is no end in sight.  We can’t solve COVID, but we can put processes / solutions in place to deal with the impacts going forward and I certainly hope we take this opportunity to do so 😊.  Now let’s move on to social unrest.  This crisis has opened our eyes to many of the disadvantages certain groups have been experiencing for decades and shined a bright light on the issue.  This has resulted in companies big and small taking a fresh look at their Social Responsibility and Diversity & Inclusion (“D&I”) efforts.  There is one way we can play a major role in this area and it is in Supplier Diversity.

I have been thinking a lot about this lately (more than usual) particularly because COVID has hit small and minority businesses particularly hard.  I wrote a blog post about Supplier Diversity which was ironically published on March 11, 2020 RIGHT BEFORE COVID took us all by storm.  My post actually had nothing to do with COVID but months later, this post is more important than ever.  Customers, employees, communities, regulators, board of directors and shareholders are DEMANDING that organizations up their D&I game and Supplier Diversity is part of that.  If your CEO has not already knocked on your door to inquire about the status of your Supplier Diversity program, just wait, it’s coming.   I’m going to assume that everyone reading this blog already has a Supplier Diversity program in place, but the question is  – how effective is it?  Here are some key questions to consider:

  • Has a business case been developed for Supplier Diversity which articulates the business benefits tied to the bottom line and growth and not just the social benefits?
  • Are the Supplier Diversity goals owned by the CEO and his / her leadership team?
  • Does Supplier Diversity have a vision and strategic objectives in place along with collateral and branding  to generate support?
  • Does Supplier Diversity report regularly to your C-level Executives and / or Board of Directors on its’ metrics and progress?
  • Is your Supplier Diversity Director viewed as a key resource to senior management?
  • Does Supplier Diversity work collaboratively with key stakeholders by demonstrating causal linkage between THEIR Value Drivers and Supplier Diversity plans?
  • Are plans and approaches to measure and ensure the adoption and commitment of Supplier Diversity goals across the company in place?
  • Does Supplier Diversity measure its’ contribution to market share and stakeholders’ equity(or other such appropriate metrics) ?
  • Does Supplier Diversity Work with other corporations to share top performing minority suppliers and share best practices?
  • Does Supplier Diversity engage your local communities and customers to ensure that the diversity of your supplier base reflects that of its customer base and the communities it serves?

I literally just selected a sample of questions from our Supplier Diversity Maturity Assessment to get you thinking about your Supplier Diversity function.  If you answered “No” to any of the questions above, your Supplier Diversity function needs a refresh.  You may want to get moving on that before your CEO comes knocking on your door.  If you think you need help, drop us a quick note.  

Please stay safe, let us know what you think and join in the conversation . . . . .

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Anne Kohler
Anne has been leading consulting and financial management organizations for over 25 years. She has extensive expertise in Strategic Sourcing, change management, contracting & contract management (both the buy side and sell side) organizational design and supply chain management. Anne has a passion for collaborating and educating her clients while helping them to uncover hidden value in their organizations. In addition, Anne has been named by Supply & Demand Chain Executive as a “Top 100 Provider Pro to Know” every year since 2007 and a 2013 Top Female Supply Chain executive.
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