Daily Archives: June 26, 2012

If You Really Want Diversity, Hire People Who Embrace It

Flipping over to the eSide, we see that it recently ran an interesting article on Getting Supplier Diversity Going — From the Middle Up that presented a number of good low-cost suggestions for kicking a diversity program into gear. These suggestions included:

  • Volunteering to Speak at Supplier Diversity/Training Events
    and hoping that someone sees your initiative
  • Creating a Supplier Diversity Brochure to be Distributed Throughout your Company
    and those who like to read such company material will start to tune into the issue
  • Creating a Diversity Council
    that has quarterly meetings to discuss the issue and people will show up (especially if it means avoiding other work or free food)
  • Getting Senior Management to Speak at Your Supplier Diversity Training Events
    and if management conveys sincere support for the effort, employees serious about staying with the company for a while will start to listen
  • Inviting A Diverse Supplier to Showcase Its Products at Your Facility during lunch
    and those who are bored, hungry, or friends with the rep will show up and take note
  • Having a Government Training Event at Your Facility
    and … oops, sorry, this is only going to bring you good press … there usually isn’t as much respect for the public sector as you’d like to think in private organizations
  • Hosting a Supplier Diversity Luncheon
    with multiple suppliers, kicking the showcase up a notch and taking it to the next level
  • Creating an Annual Diversity Recognition Event for Supply Management Professionals
    and watching as our egos work to your advantage
  • Sponsoring a Diverse Supplier’s Attendance at a Local or National Training Event
    and having them rally for your cause (in the hopes they’ll be invited again)
  • Coordinating a quarterly raffle
    and … oops, this is borderline bribery and not in the best interest of the organization if an award is made to a supplier who does not provide the best value to the organization just so that the Supply Manager can get a free ticket or ten (as you should really only award to a diverse supplier if such supplier can bring the best value, or if there’s a tie and one supplier is diverse and one is not)

By now you probably think the doctor was being sarcastic when he said that the article presented a number of good low-cost suggestions for kicking a diversity program into gear. Even though he ripped on all of them, eight out of ten of the ideas are good. The problem is not the ideas. The problem is your people. In today’s economy, people are generally overworked, underpaid, and barraged with new initiatives all the time, most of which require time and effort they just don’t have. As a result, their first reaction to anything new is “uh-oh!”. On top of this, you have the problem that this is a sensitive issue that has to be addressed lightly and the potential problem that some people in our society still don’t want, or even like, diversity.

The reality is that if you don’t have people in your organization that are at least open to diversity, they’re not going to embrace any initiative you throw at them, no matter how many of the eight great ideas above you throw at them. (For the record, except for the government training event, that could backfire, and the raffle, that sounds like bribery, the doctor thinks the rest are great.) Even if they’re overworked, or lazy (which is another problem in today’s workplace), if organizational talent is open to diversity, a good diversity initiative will bring them out of their shell and such a program will generate, with effort, some amazing results. But if your organizational talent is not open to diversity, you can, as they say, try until the cows come home and not get any results, or, even worse, if your organization is full of backwoods types that don’t like diversity and change, generate hostile resentment to the initiative. So make sure any effort you undertake starts with HR. HR really has to get it right.