The Hottest Topic in Supply Chain / Strategic Sourcing?

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It’s not a surprise – Supplier Diversity or CSR or what is now known as D E &I (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion).  And it’s no longer a nice to have but has moved into the area of must have or you lose a competitive advantage.  Even more powerful, it has now moved from individual consumers making their voices heard through boycotts and has moved into corporations demanding it of their suppliers in a very active way.  So, if you missed the last PERT session on April 13th , you missed a phenomenal discussion.

It was facilitated by Carlton Adams who we are so lucky to announce as our Practice Director for Supplier Diversity and he invited two of his friends from two small little companies Kendra Burris-Austin  and Shaun Jones  from Centene – $110bn and Walgreens-$122bn respectively.  I really wish you had been there to pick up on the energy and passion of the session and please stay tuned for Volumes 2 & 3.  Let me share with you some of the highlights from this session and encourage you to look inside your company and assess where you are because this topic could either be adding risk or giving you a competitive advantage based on your strategy.  Your C-level may need some education if they are not already pushing you hard to make progress.  This is a great time to be in our profession because the demands from the C-Suite will continue to increase exponentially.

Take a quick peek at these challenges that Carlton presented and see how many resonate with you?

Interestingly, many of the attendees were surprised to see many of their challenges on the slide because everyone always thinks their challenges are unique.  Here were some other factoids presented by Carlton that proves why this is such a hot topic:

  • According to the US Census Bureau, ethnic minorities will account for 51% of the US population by 2045, and 90% of the growth in the US population will occur in minority groups.
  • Additionally, in 11 of the largest 15 cities in the United States, minority populations already exceed more than 50% of the total population
  • Ethnic minorities are growing in the U.S. and they will hold up to $6.1 trillion in purchasing power by the year 2045 (U.S. Small Business Administration, 2007).
  • It should be clear by now, that trends are changing with regards to population demographics and those who will be holding the purchasing power in the future.
  • For a company to stay competitive in today’s market, it is necessary to implement a supplier diversity program that supports your company’s overall mission and goals, which are critical to its success.

And this is precisely why this topic has become so hot.  The C suite is looking at similar trends and getting anxious.  They are reading about successful boycotts being led by consumers.  CEO are showing up in large numbers for workshops and discussions on this topic and hanging around long after the session is over to discuss what more can they do and they will be coming to you for help.

And at the end of the day, the C suite must play a very critical role for this to succeed.  Showing up at the launch of a program and waving the flag and then waiting for the results to start showing up is a fool’s errand.  Here was an interesting slide that Carlton used to challenge the audience and got many, many nods of the head on the following test:

TMG Next Practice Example – Is your CEO Really Committed?

  • Ask for 5 minutes a month at Executive Team 1st 6 months
  • Ask for 5 minutes a quarter for next 2 years
  • Ask for 5 minutes at any Board meeting once a year
  • Direct Report to provide update at these meetings

Will the CEO spare 70 minutes of agenda time over 30 months to achieve the Corporate Goals?  If not, they are probably not serious.  So many, many thanks to Kendra (Centene) and Shaun (Walgreens) for sharing their journey and please stay tuned  for the next session on this topic where we will actually present a number of tools and techniques and also have a surprise guest – A CPO who will share his perspective on what is being demanded of him and how he is planning to deliver.

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Dalip Raheja is President and CEO of The Mpower Group (TMG). Dalip has over 30 years of experience managing large organizations and change initiatives. He has worked across the spectrums of supply chain management, strategic sourcing, and management consulting.

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