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Connecting Women Entrepreneurs to C Suite Women: Supplier Diversity and Contracts (Procurement)

Women and minorities can work together to encourage each other and benefit their employers or businesses.

Supplier diversity is a way corporations can ensure that they are using diverse businesses and vendors to source the materials their operations need. Many corporations now have supplier diversity programs where they target a certain percentage of their supply needs to come from diverse sources certified by the government and other agencies.While some in the business community are skeptical of supplier diversity and see it as a quota system, the proof is in the pudding: companies with supplier diversity programs are more profitable than those without. When confronted with these facts, many businesses are choosing to get on board with supplier diversity because of the advantages their company can enjoy by doing so.

Why Diversity Works

The main advantage of diversity in companies is that it brings different ways of thinking together, leading to a better result in terms of decision-making, innovation, and discovering new markets. Supplier diversity is successful because it provides more competition between a larger number of suppliers and because it assists in job creation in diverse communities and populations. Small businesses are driving the engine of economic growth in the U.S. and other countries, and most diverse suppliers are small businesses that are hiring in the communities where they reside. Corporations needing multiple suppliers can support these small businesses by including them in the mix with other suppliers and giving them the opportunity to earn business.

C-Suite Women as Influencers of Supplier Diversity

Women in the C-suite of corporations can do their part by using supplier diversity as an opportunity to make connections with women entrepreneurs. C-suite women have a great deal of influence in their companies and can show their teams the competitive advantages of a commitment to supplier diversity and relationships with other women and minority woman-owned businesses that can contribute to their profitability and the quality of their products.

Supplier Diversity Best Practices

Women who want to establish supplier diversity programs should start by engaging other company leaders in conversations about the competitive advantages of such practices. Once they gain support for starting a program, they can help to set measurable goals for the program, starting slow and working up to a higher percentage of procurement from diverse businesses. Organizations like the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) and the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) can help connect you with diverse suppliers that can meet your needs. Promoting your company's use of diverse suppliers can encourage other companies to use women-owned and minority-owned businesses for their own supply needs as well. De Asa Brown, director of supplier diversity at payroll company ADP, works to connect suppliers and larger companies so that both can benefit. "Networking is critical," she advises, adding that suppliers should connect with management and the C-suite so that lines of communication remain open throughout the process. This will be a topic of discussion at the Ron Brown Commerce Summit Women's Symposium

Register today and attend the symposium to discover more ways to get support and encouragement for your career.

Tara Lynn Gray

Chamber Foundation Board of Directors

President & CEO YADARI Enterprises

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