Best Practices for Incorporating Inclusiveness in All Aspects of Your Business

COVID has dominated headlines in 2020, but this summer the issue of inclusiveness became front and center. As companies focus on increasing inclusiveness and acceptance in the workplace, they should also be focused on increasing the number of diverse suppliers - those that are minority, women or veteran owned. Doing so demonstrates to employees and customers a true commitment to corporate responsibility and community involvement.

Supplier and workplace diversity

While COVID has dominated the news this year, this summer another topic has emerged that has grabbed headlines here at home and globally: inclusiveness. Inclusiveness speaks to treating everyone equally, particularly those that might be excluded or marginalized due to disabilities, ethnicity, religious views, sexual orientation, etc. Over the past few months, in large part due to social discourse and peaceful protests, individuals and businesses alike have been encouraged to rethink what inclusiveness means to them personally and within their work environment.

This focus on inclusiveness and acceptance, while not new to Corporate America, has certainly been growing. Many companies are now taking action to ensure existing employees feel valued and included at work by organizing groups designed to initiate open discourse regarding how individuals from all backgrounds, particularly those in minority groups, interpret the actions of management and co-workers regarding acceptance of their ideas and their opportunity for advancement based on merit, and whether they feel their minority status has hindered such acceptance and opportunities. At the same time, many organizations are making more of a concerted effort to recruit and hire individuals from a variety of “minority” groups for all levels of positions. Such actions truly reflect a company’s objective of hiring the best candidate for all positions based solely on their accomplishments. All of these activities demonstrate a new dedication to truly make everyone that works for a company feel included, valued and has the opportunity to advance their career based on their talent and performance, and nothing else.

However, organizations can demonstrate their commitment to inclusiveness in other ways such as through the use of diverse suppliers, or vendors that are owned and run by minorities, women, and veterans. In 2019, northAmerican® commissioned a research study into diverse supplier programs. The objective was to better understand the reasons why companies establish such programs, what kind of companies (size, industry) were more likely to develop supplier diversity programs, the methodologies used to create them, how the success of these programs is measured, and more. Interestingly, the increase in corporate supplier diversity programs, per research conducted prior to 2020, was tied to corporate social responsibility, company culture, and customer requirements. In other words, these programs appeal to both existing and future employees, as well as customers, and may be helpful in attracting and retaining top talent. Given the renewed focus on inclusiveness, and ways for companies to demonstrate their commitment, it seems clear that a vital and important part of any diversity initiative should include the active pursuit and use of diverse suppliers that are woman, minority and veteran owned. This research study is a true “must read” for companies considering or embarking on the establishment of a supplier diversity program, as well as companies interested in growing existing programs.

Our research provides insight into many facets of creating and managing a supplier diversity program, including:

  • Size and industry statistics
  • Program size and maturity (based on number of dedicated staff and participating vendors)
  • Program requirements (whether vendors must be certified or not)
  • How companies find diverse suppliers
  • Reporting and metrics (ie, program ROI measurement)
  • Tier 1 and Tier 2 spending
  • Program drivers
  • How program is perceived
  • Challenges
  • Opportunities for growing supplier diversity programs

When this study was initially commissioned, one of the key drivers appeared to be the increase of millennials in the workplace and as consumers, and their interest in working with companies that demonstrate social responsibility, which includes programs that highlight diversity. One year later, it is clear that in order for corporations to be more in tune with their current and future employees, and existing and potential customers, they must clearly show themselves as being advocates of inclusiveness of all groups of people in order to remain relevant with their audiences.

Click to read our full Supplier Diversity research study.

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