Building Strategic Supplier Diversity: A Course Review

In our post earlier this week on what is diversity and what is in it for you, we noted that supplier diversity is a much talked about concept and while it is often misunderstood, it is a concept that needs to be well understood, and well executed, because not only is diversity necessary to supply certain public sector organizations, but it is often necessary for your strategic supply management program to succeed.

Chances are that your supplier management team has already elevated you most strategic suppliers to the best level of efficiency and productivity that you can expect without a much bigger contract award or more investment, and additional improvements in the supply chain are going to require new suppliers with new capabilities, which are going to come from new suppliers. But if you really want new capabilities, new ideas, and new innovations, you shouldn’t always go back to the same old supplier pool, and for most organizations, a diverse supplier pool is not the same supplier pool.

But how do you get a diverse supplier pool? You start with a strategic supplier diversity plan, get executive support and budget, and work hard to identify, select, and train diverse suppliers to serve your organization. And how do you build a good supplier diversity plan? With preparation, and, most importantly knowledge. But where do you find that knowledge, especially when many organizations pronounce the benefits of good supplier diversity but don’t provide you much information on how to get there. And it’s not a subject covered much in Universities and Colleges that still teach classic operations research programs. But that’s where organizations like Next Level Purchasing come in. Next Level Purchasing’s latest offering is a course on Strategic Supplier Diversity that not only explains what it is, but how to define and put a successful multi-tier supplier diversity program in place.

The course, which defines a 5-level maturity model for supplier diversity initiatives, calculations for diversity ROI, a 5 step process for maximizing diversity value, benefits of automated supplier diversity tracking, how to verify a supplier is diverse (and not just diverse on paper), and implementation steps, also tackles the notion of multi-tier supplier diversity, which goes well beyond what most articles and papers address and this is where the full value of diversity shines.

While there is value in first tier supplier diversity, such as new ideas, capabilities, better service, and cultural comfortability, at some point, the benefits the diverse supplier can bring on its own will wear out. The supplier will grow, reach its potential, and level out in terms of new value. It will still be minority owned, and still be diverse on paper, but the diversity value it brings beyond that will be minimal. But if the diverse supplier uses diverse suppliers, it will have a constant supply of new ideas, capabilities, services, and cultural influences that will help it constantly improve, which will help you constantly improve.

But it’s not easy to craft a program that will not only be successful within your organization, but flow down into your suppliers and successful in their organizations. It takes a depth of understanding, a great deal of communication, a well constructed policy and guidebook, and internal and external training — and all of this communication, documentation, and training has to be expertly assembled and delivered, which is hard to do if you’ve never done it before – and chances are you haven’t. Senior positions in supplier diversity have only started to materialize over the last decade and the number of experienced diversity managers and executives with experience successfully creating and delivering multi-tier diversity initiatives are few and far between, so you will have to do it yourself, and to do it right, you will need training.

Fortunately, NLP’s new course on Strategic Supplier Diversity, part of their upcoming SPSM4 certification, is very well designed, thought out, clear, and even actionable in its x-step programs and is there to help you understand what you need to do, why, and how best to accomplish it. This is one course on the subject that SI can confidently recommend. Check it out and you will be one step closer to building your own multi-tier diversity program that will rival those of the best Global 3000s.