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Supplier Diversity: Why it's important for your Connecticut business

The face of American business has changed drastically over the past 50 years.

In recent decades, our minority population has become much stronger in both its purchasing power and business development activity.  Minority businesses are also starting up at unprecedented rates, and we can expect these businesses to play a key role in the health of our national and local economy in the years ahead.

Whether your company is large or small, a supplier diversity program can help your business key into the advantages these population changes are already bringing.  If you’d like to know more about supplier diversity, here are some quick facts and success tips from A.R. Mazzotta.

Supplier Diversity: a Quick 101

So what exactly is supplier diversity?  According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), “Supplier diversity is an inclusion initiative that links private businesses with minority-owned suppliers of goods and services.”

In simpler terms, it’s the proactive business process of sourcing products and services from previously underused suppliers.  These could include women owned, LGBT owned, veteran owned, service-disabled veteran owned and SBA-defined small businesses.

Why Supplier Diversity is Important to Your CT Business

Some companies have a supplier diversity program to gain access to government contracts (which carry supplier diversity requirements).  But even if government contracts aren’t a part of your business, minority, women and disabled-veteran owned suppliers bring value to your company in a number of ways.  They can help you:

  • meet your customers’ diverse needs;
  • gain fresh perspective on how business can and should be done;
  • access sources of potential customers through these diverse suppliers;
  • improve your position as an innovative leader within your community.

Ways to Increase Access to Diverse Suppliers

Start by identifying potential minority suppliers for your business.  Fortunately, a number of national organizations, such as the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) and the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), provide lists of diverse suppliers to potential buyers.  In addition, here are some strategies for capitalizing on the opportunities supplier diversity presents:

  • Commit from the top down. Executive level commitment is essential to fully leverage supplier diversity benefits.  Leaders in your company must demonstrate their belief in the concept, and procurement professionals must help leadership understand how achieving supplier diversity goals will enhance your business.
  • Work from the inside out. Supplier diversity starts with organizational culture.  Seek to change employee mindsets by challenging their beliefs about supplier diversity and providing information about how population trends will impact your organization.
  • Network. Network through national organizations, such as the NMSDC and the WBENC.
  • Learn more. Attend trade shows, such as those offered by NMSDC and other organizations focused on business development.
  • Make it easy for diverse suppliers to find you. Create a supplier website which identifies the services and products your organization typically seeks.
  • Work with A.R. Mazzotta. We are a staffing service certified by the State of Connecticut Supplier Diversity Program as a Women Owned Small/Minority Business Enterprise. By working with us, you may be able to meet your contract supplier diversity requirements.