In recent years, diverse supplier programs have become increasingly popular with companies of all sizes across industries. We set out to understand more about how mobility and relocation both impacted or were impacted by the expansion of these programs. We soon realized that there was little data or research available on diverse supplier programs and nearly none with a slant towards our industry. It was in response to the lack of existing research available that in April, the Integrated Marketing Association was commissioned by northAmerican(R) Van Lines to conduct third-party research* into diverse supplier programs across a wide swath of companies. We really wanted to understand what specific drivers were acting as catalysts for companies that regardless of industry and size, were all similarly adopting and growing diverse supplier programs. Beyond what motivated their adoption, we wanted to also find out the attitudes, outcomes, efficacy, and processes associated with how companies pursue and manage their diverse supplier programs.
Here Are Some of Our Key Findings:
- Diverse Suppliers are Largely Required to be Certified
- Sourcing Diverse Suppliers is Difficult
- More Than 5% of Tier 1 Spend on Diverse Suppliers is the Norm
- Most Companies Have Shockingly Few Diverse Suppliers
- Age of a Diverse Supplier Program Directly Influences Supplier Quantity
- Companies are Looking to Grow Their Programs
- Supplier Diversity Programs are Driven by Culture (Both Internal & External)
- Measuring Diverse Supplier Programs’ ROI is Challenging and Often Imprecise
- Supplier Diversity Programs are Overwhelmingly Perceived as Effective
- There are Significant and Common Challenges Encountered by Diversity Professionals
- Moving, Real Estate And Services Related to Employee Relocation are an Untapped Resource
To read the entirety of the research, please download our Supplier Diversity whitepaper by visiting the “Whitepapers” section of our website and clicking “Download Now”.
Our research shows that there are improvements that can be made by both diverse suppliers themselves and the companies that hire them. One such improvement is for diverse suppliers to make known their certified status in both their marketing efforts and their conversations with prospective companies. Many of these companies don’t like to lead with the fact they are diverse suppliers but rather bring it up in conversation after an opportunity has been identified. We suspect many diverse suppliers are reluctant to promote the fact they are indeed diverse, fearing it could harm them more than help. The reality is HR and diversity professionals alike are having a difficult time finding certified suppliers to invite to participate. By simply adding some content to their websites with proper meta tags as a start, diverse suppliers may be able to be more easily found by companies searching to expand their programs.
On the organizational side, companies must adopt more content and communication plans related to the importance of these programs. It is important for employees of organizations with diverse supplier programs to understand the multitude of tangible and intangible benefits these programs provide. When it comes to communication it is imperative that companies understand that diverse suppliers offer them a way to increase innovation and improve their social responsibility image. This will help with getting executive buy-in to such programs which is the third most difficult challenge facing diversity professionals today.
For external stakeholders, it is crucial for companies who take seriously their diverse supplier program to leverage it within their external marketing efforts. As more companies seek to develop programs such as these and similar initiatives, they will also want to do business with similarly aligned organizations. The same is also true for business-to-consumer firms looking to improve and differentiate their brand image. As more of our current consumer base seeks to buy from brands that do good and stand for something bigger than their product or service, getting the message out on corporate social responsibility efforts is more crucial than ever. Interweaving these efforts with your brand almost synonymously will get you not only more customers but a following.
Lastly, tracking ROI isn’t easy and it requires staff. Companies with more resources dedicated to their program were 50% more likely to track the overall ROI of their diverse supplier program. The top methods for calculating the ROI of companies’ diverse supplier programs were dollars saved by using diverse suppliers that were less costly and revenue as a result of working with customers with diversity spend requirements. Fifteen percent of respondents reported not measuring ROI at all. It goes without saying, many of the benefits associated with diverse supplier programs are intangible and thus difficult to measure. However, it is important to think of ways that may allow companies to keep better tabs on these benefits that may seem elusive and daunting to track.
As Millennials begin to ascend into more senior positions within companies, it is likely that the generation’s well-known desire for corporate social responsibility, inclusion, and creating a favorable corporate culture to attract and retain top talent has much to do with these top reported drivers. Moreover, the correlation between diversity and innovation has been well proven and to remain competitive in today’s global economy, consistent and constant innovation are essential. Diverse supplier programs may be seen as an essential addition to today’s younger workforce. One may understand the same reasoning to account for the reported top driver of customer requirements. Now more than ever, millennial consumers want to buy from socially responsible brands and companies. It is not unlikely that millennials charged with constructing purchasing and sourcing guidelines for their firms would push to expand or improve upon their diverse supplier program in this same vein.
While there seems to be a lot of room for program improvement with regards to finding certified suppliers and communication (both internally and externally) about their programs, nearly 68% of companies want to grow their programs and 87.6% of companies find their supplier diversity programs somewhat or very effective. It is no surprise that that same audience has fewer than 10 suppliers participating in their program, hence the desire to add more suppliers. Only 32% of companies have more than 10 companies in their program.
There is certainly an opportunity for those companies wanting to expand their supplier diversity programs to actively seek out moving companies who qualify as certified minority companies. Through this research, it has become evident that the variety of moving, relocation, and storage services offered by northAmerican and others are an underutilized area from which companies who are serious about expanding their supplier diversity programs ought to look. The moving and relocation space offers a wealth of certified diverse suppliers with years of experience. At northAmerican alone, there are 48 minority, women, or veteran-owned locations across the US. It seems that our industry may simply be overlooked as a source for diverse supplier programs and one that may help propel relocation and its related services into a burgeoning facet of corporate cultural change.
*Our survey responses were comprised of 524 Human Resource, Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Responsibility executives. Of these 524 respondents, 284 played a direct role in developing or managing a Vendor Diversity Program. Respondents came from 33 industries and businesses of varying sizes. More than half of respondents surveyed stated they had what they considered to be a formal diverse supplier program versus informal (27.9%) or just getting started (11.5%). Additionally, 74.2% of those surveyed had diverse supplier programs that have been in place for less than ten years.
 Egan, M. (2011, July). Fostering Innovation Through a Diverse Workforce (S. Feil, Ed.). Retrieved March 10, 2019, from https://images.forbes.com/forbesinsights/
 Corporate Social Responsibility Matters: Ignore Millennials at Your Peril. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://csic.georgetown.edu/magazine/corporate-social-responsibility-matters-ignore-millennials-peril/