Southport, CT / --Several events in recent months around the idea of an
inclusive supplier and workforce base driving revenue should resonate with
diversity practitioners. We have seen C-level executives at Wal-Mart,
Hewlett Packard and General Mills take strong positions on inclusion with
their suppliers. In all cases, these major brands demanded inclusion within
the workforce from their major suppliers as a requirement of doing business
Note, this isn’t about ownership attributes of their supplier partners, but
more about an inclusive workforce that will perform services and produce
products. The President of Sam’s Club, Chief Marketing Officers (CMO) of HP,
and CMO of General Mills each articulated the need for their suppliers to
have substantial inclusion in their workforce if they expect to win these
“Big” accounts. It should be noted, they did not use their supplier
diversity officers or procurement department to communicate this requirement
which totaled nearly a billion dollars.
Really! Is this a confirmation that companies with supplier diversity
programs in place for over 30 years are signaling failure of their own
company’s process? Now, and for the foreseeable future, referred to as
Supplier Inclusion without the word “Diversity”. This is another story
altogether, but helps make the larger point. Has a 60’s approach to
inclusion within a supplier base finally meet its long-overdue end? Since
20th century terms, systems, and processes have not been updated in decades,
I would argue it has!
Further, we have an industry which has never had the attention of senior
management and is essentially lost in the new millennium. Some companies
still use the “M” word and other “backwoods” terms and acronyms to describe
their business partners. This outdated practice deems itself offensive,
humiliating and down-right rude. “Because you paid us, we let you do it.”
The Master/Slave relationship is also common by virtue of the typical. “This
is what you have to do if you want to do business with my company" attitude.
How much longer do we have to wait to bring about major change?
All is not lost and as things do begin to slowly move in a more positive
direction, high-ranking consumer product companies and others see and
understand the importance of an inclusive workforce throughout their supply
chain partners as a way of reaching the “Inclusive Majority.” This should be
a wake up call for Chief Procurement Officers who drive the efforts to
structure an inclusive supply chain to completely overhaul their processes.
Since its beginnings, Supplier Inclusion only focused on the makeup of
ownership of its supply base. It made the simple assumption to achieve
economic inclusion it would need to focus on the ownership of companies from
which it procured goods and services.
In recent years, I have pushed the idea ownership doesn’t matter amongst
suppliers when trying to spread wealth to the Inclusive Majority. I consider
job location and those who are actually performing the services and
manufacturing the goods as more impactful indicators. The idea that a
company’s workforce mirrors the group of ownership simply offers an easy way
to report “Mission Accomplished.” As a practical matter, the goal of
supplier inclusion is meant to create economic opportunity for “Targeted”
groups not wealth for a few business owners, therefore, under this model
………. “Ownership Doesn’t Matter.”
Study after study has illustrated the business case behind diversity.
McKinsey & Company found that ” companies in the top quartile for gender or
racial and ethnic diversity are more likely to have financial returns above
their national industry medians. Companies in the bottom quartile in these
dimensions are statistically less likely to achieve above-average returns.
And diversity is probably a competitive differentiator that shifts market
share toward more diverse companies over time.”
When you show up at my front door, I want to see an entire team reflecting
my customer base. This should be the inspired message being driven by these
C-suite executives and most likely, countless others who are charged with
the mission of generating revenue from the markets they serve. When it comes
to the Inclusive Majority and the $20 trillion dollar marketplace they
represent as consumers ………… It’s time to put on the “Big Boy Pants.” These
requirements for an inclusive workforce amongst supply chain partners are
far overdue and should be encouraged.
So here’s the real opportunity for Supplier Inclusion Professionals. You are
in a unique position to be the most important driver for increased revenues
and, for the foreseeable future, referred to as Supplier Inclusion Program.
We will skip the removable of the word “Diversity” for now noting the long,
dreaded position in the procurement departments with little or no internal
respect or support from your company. Your insight into the goals of an
inclusive supplier network can provide you with a competitive advantage in
achieving your organization's goals in the “Total Market”.
So forget the matrix driven goal of “Inclusive Market Suppliers” which
assumed a company’s workforce reflected a supplier's ownership. They never
measured up and were built upon a hypothesis that wasn’t tested or proven,
that which says "dollars spent equated to job creation for a “Targeted
Group"; yet, “Spending Doesn’t Matter”. I propose, instead, we focus on
“Impact Sourcing.” I define this as: making supplier selection based upon
the employment of a “Targeted Group” and a community for which you are
trying to create economic opportunity.
This method is measurable and creates the ability to communicate through
your supply chain partner’s, further expanding economic growth in
communities your company targets for new and sustainable jobs. Most
importantly, it allows you to take on leadership positions and engage your
Chief Diversity, Marketing and Procurement Officers in creating a new
program for inclusive suppliers in the 21st Century.
Through “impact sourcing”, we can make a positive difference in our
It’s all about the workforce!
Kenton Clarke | President & CEO | DiversityBusiness.com | Founder | Omnikal
| AKA…… Bugle Boy|
| Press Contact: Quantise Rodgers | Director of Communications |
DiversityBusiness.com | (203) 255-8966 |
Contact US | 200 Pequot Avenue | Southport, CT 06890 |
About the Author:
Kenton Clarke is CEO of Computer Consulting Associates International, Inc. (CCAii)
CCAii, of Southport , Connecticut , is one of the nation's leading
multicultural Information Technology consulting firms. DiversityBusiness.com
and Omnikal, CCAii's flagship products, are the nation's largest and most
comprehensive organizations for entrepreneurs.
Considered one of America's authorities on diversity business issues, Kenton
is frequently quoted in local and national publications on diversity and
technology issues. These include Fortune, Businessweek and Black Enterprise
magazine. He has also appeared as an industry spokesperson on PBS, CNBC, CBS
News Radio and Yahoo! Finance Vision.
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