by Reginald Williams
Procurement Resources Inc.
July 3, 2023
Your computer is probably blowing up with information concerning today’s news broadcast regarding the Supreme Court striking down affirmative action in college admissions. With this action there are clear implications forthcoming concerning how this decision might affect our work in supplier diversity. And these challenges cannot be ignored.
For this reason, let me offer a path forward in anticipation of new challenges that practitioners must surely address, given the nature of our uncertain environment.
I know that as a servant leader you are committed to expanding the base of supplier diversity stakeholders by playing an active role as a thought leader. To that end . . . these high-level suggestions are compelling and irrefutable. They will help to clarify any misinformation on the role we play and the desired outcomes that we work to achieve:
Supplier diversity is an organizational priority that ensures partnership with our broad multiracial, multicultural customer base. It’s essential to our growth and survival.
The diversity ecosystem positions supplier diversity as a pillar that drives inclusion and creates brand value because there simply is no better way to grow our customers than to be business partners with them.
Supplier diversity is not affirmative action in any way. It is a voluntary process, and it is not government regulated. It does not guarantee selection of a vendor, rather, it ensures “competitive access “and inclusion in the procurement process.
We must create the change we want to see. But, as we know, the world we live in equally distributes talent. . . it does not equally distribute opportunity!
Business opportunities are achieved through intentional actions made possible through collaborative engagement as a tool of the supply chain. The goal is to expand competitive access by casting a wider net that considers the added value made possible through diversity. It does not require that we compromise our expectations for performance.
Supplier diversity is governed by several important factors that are highly valued and none of these requires that we lower the bar or compromise our expectations for performance.
We consider a supplier’s track-record, history, capabilities, racial, ethnic, gender, military service, and even socio-economic background in an effort to meet customer needs through competitive access. All of this is focused on generating “customer value.”
But supplier diversity succeeds because of shared interpersonal and business synergies that lead to shared ownership and create shared results. This means more efficient services, improved products, cost reduction, and best value decision making.
This investment in the customer represents the core of our mission as organizations are taking a deeper dive into policies, practices, and actionable strategies that generate brand appreciation. But this can only be achieved when we promote broader participation that yields definitive returns.
More importantly, there is a direct correlation between a company’s public image on matters of inclusion and it translates directly into marketplace success. Leading corporations that we work with embrace diversity in their supply base by investing in growth opportunities among their fastest growing market demographic - - - minorities and women. In effect, the company grows as the customer grows.
This compelling business case sets supplier diversity apart from any other component of diversity in the argument concerning affirmative action. For these reasons, the road to business equity means far more than a numbers game. Business diversity is an element of customer value that invests in organizational success through partnerships that generate both social and economic returns.
Organizations that align supplier diversity as an element of their supply chain will not be deterred by actions of the Supreme Court or any legal decision that erects barriers to diversity and business inclusion, because our primary measurement of success is based on the success of our customer.
Reginald Williams of Procurement Resources Inc. is Consultant to Corporate Management on Supplier Diversity working with leading corporations including several members of the Billion Dollar Roundtable. This white paper summarizes the continuing importance of supplier diversity following the recent Supreme Court decision striking down Affirmative Action on June 29, 2023. He makes no excuses for his commitment to supplier diversity as a tool of servant leadership.