Courting Supplier Diversity | DCR Workforce Blog

Courting Supplier Diversity

Among the recent breaking news items, the one about AT&T surpassing its aggressive corporate goal of reaching 21.5% supplier diversity to actually achieve 23% of total spend using certified diverse businesses stands out! AT&T has also reached its supplier diversity goal of $12 billion spend one year ahead of schedule; using minorities, women and service-disabled veteran-owned and other historically under-utilized businesses. AT&T’s Chairman and CEO made it a point to laud the beneficial effects of the viewpoints and perspectives brought in by these suppliers to the company and its customers, and of course the community. Claps everyone, please and do demand an encore, year on year.

Strategies to Achieve Supplier Diversity

Major companies across the US find it worth their while to have policies and programs in place to set themselves supplier diversity goals and working to achieve those using unique and not-so-unique strategies.

  • AT&T made a success of their supplier diversity programs only through conscious efforts at developing certified suppliers. They train and mentor their suppliers to perform well and meet corporate goals by improving their business operations and to meet the expectations of their customers, creating a win-win for both sides.
  • Verizon promotes diversity by identifying diverse suppliers and partnering with them to build sustainable value-addition in the business partnerships through an inclusive approach.
  • Big companies like Boeing impose second-tier subcontracting to diverse suppliers in their contracts with their main suppliers. Kodak is also famous for aggressively incorporating diversity clauses over their 2nd and 3rd level sub-contracts.
  • Companies document their commitment to the specific goal and tie it to the performance plans of the C-suite and above.
  • A database of certified diverse suppliers is actively maintained, consulted and integrated into the purchasing process.
  • Strategic partnerships with organizations that assist in the goals of the program are an essential part of diversity plans.
  • The Head of Supplier Diversity program follows a strategic plan to achieve diversity and holds control over purchases to meet and achieve the goals under the plan.

Such aggressive programs have given rise to bitterness and counter-claims of reverse-discrimination from non-minority owned businesses, but it is not easy to take a call on any one side at this moment.

Why Need Affirmative Action?

I am reminded of a rare moment of disagreement I had – as a teenager – with my mother; when I invited a friend, from a different community, over to my place for a week’s stay. After we saw the friend off, my mother actually demanded praise for her total emancipation from class-consciousness and for the way she  treated this friend on par with any other visitor. I refuted the claim, and rather bluntly told her that claims of emancipation are unacceptable from someone who was anyway conscious of the so-called ‘difference’! (In retrospect, I do kick myself for censuring her, without factoring in her upbringing.)

The work of EEOC, the US Department of Justice and Dept. of Labor and other regulatory authorities are all cut out for them for as long as we have class consciousness being promoted surreptitiously at the individual level – though defied at the community level; creating strong dichotomy and confusion in the minds of people about something as simple as an inclusive approach to other humans, irrespective of their gender, race, color or creed.

The content on this blog is for informational purposes only and cannot be construed as specific legal advice or as a substitute for competent legal advice. They reflect the opinions of DCR Workforce and may not reflect the opinions of any individual attorney. Do contact an attorney for advice specific to your issue or problem.
Lalita is a people/project manager with extensive experience in operations, HCM and training and development across industries like banking, education, business consulting, BPO and information technology. She believes in a dynamic approach to life and learning as change is the only constant.