Organizations seek to increase their supplier network in order to better represent their customers. Supplier diversity increases the opportunities for economically or socially disadvantaged groups to be involved in the supply chain. Since a few years ago, corporate social responsibilities have been shifting. As organizations began to hold themselves to higher standards, they sought to expand their supplier network to better represent their customers. Supplier diversity increases the opportunities for economically or socially disadvantaged groups to be involved in the supply chain.
Hootology’s 2020 study found that consumers are three times more likely than others to purchase a brand’s products and services if they are perceived as being committed to diversity.
This creates a new network of opportunities. The Coca-Cola Company’s commitment towards diverse suppliers and businesses led to a $800m spend across the entire supply chain in 2020. Target Corporation made an April announcement that it would spend more than $2B with Black-owned businesses by 2025. Both businesses are eligible for a specific category of spend because they both use technology.
Today’s suppliers need to be certified, especially with the rise in popularity of large-scale supplier diversity programs. Organizations are seeking to increase diversity spend and supplier diversity certification is a great way to do this. Businesses that aren’t certified will be at a disadvantage.
How to get certified
In early 2018, Westwind Computer Products decided to become a third-party certified small business owned by women and minorities. Although the initial application process can seem daunting, it is worth the effort if you are organized and willing to put in the time.
There are many certifications for supplier diversity available from different agencies, including:
National Minority Supplier Development Council, (NMSDC).
Women’s Business Enterprise National Council
National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce
United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Asian Pacific American Chamber of Commerce
Native American Chamber of Commerce (NACC).
Vets First Certification Program (for veterans-owned small businesses).
U.S. Business Leadership Network (USBLN) for small businesses owned by disabled people
Diverse businesses may be eligible for multiple agencies. Suppliers with more than one certification are not uncommon.
Certified? Here’s what to do next
There are many ways to find new leads once your business has been certified. Google and LinkedIn can help you find out which organizations have supplier diversity programs.
Identify the organizations you want to target (example: Fortune 500, regional, vertical/industry-specific) and look at their websites for information on supplier diversity. Are they committed? Are they committed to ensuring supplier diversity? Is there a supplier diversity program? Many organizations now use online portals to allow applicants to update their profiles and renew/update their certifications as necessary. Sam.gov profile is essential for anyone looking to work for the government. The supplier diversity program manager will need to have a one-page capability statement. Your service differentiations, i.e. what makes you and your team different, should be highlighted. Don’t rely on your diversity status.
It is still relatively new to the world of supplier diversity programs. This makes it a great time for you to get your third party certification and use it to your advantage.
Brigetta Koepke works as a supplier diversity account executive for Westwind Computer Products.