Consider this. You’ve been asked to lead a relatively new department in your company that has yet to receive buy-in from the leadership team. You have to continue working in your current, full-time position because an additional budget has not yet been created for this unfamiliar role. You know taking on this huge endeavor requires research, hard work and sacrifice. Would you do it?
Kate Kleyman, vice president, Supplier Diversity at Guggenheim Partners, didn’t think twice when she agreed to take on this unique endeavor two years ago. At the time, it was a no-brainer for Kleyman, who was working in the company’s sourcing department.
She comes from a non-profit background and has a passion for service. Unlike some who may think supplier diversity is just a charitable cause, Kleyman understands it’s the smart way to do business
“I honestly believe it’s something everyone should be doing. It’s an economic imperative because of the way our population is changing,” she says.
Without havng an initial budget, Kleyman had to muster creative ways to educate Guggenheim’s leadership about the wealth of benefits supplier diversity had to offer. The task was particularly daunting for Kleyman, who didn’t have any background knowledge about what this new territory entailed. Rather than becoming derailed, Kleyman viewed it as an opportunity to learn as much as she could about the space and establish a pitch that would eventually land her a full-time supplier diversity position. The Head of Diversity and Inclusion, Charles Spearman, partnered with Kleyman to advocate for Guggenheim establishing a supplier diversity program. With Spearman’s leadership and support, Kleyman transitioned to the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
Kleyman was relentless in her pursuit of knowledge. “I talked to as many external people as I could, finding out who works in supplier diversity and what the space was all about.”
Through constant networking, she discovered different organizations that existed and began attending free events, allowing her to gain exposure to vendors and individuals in supplier diversity. After several months of the grind, Kleyman’s blood, sweat and tears were not in vain, and she started working full-time in supplier diversity.
Guggenheim’s Vendor Diversity program was established in 2015 in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion in partnership with Strategic Sourcing and Expense Management. Under Kleyman’s leadership, they have made significant progress in expanding their initiative.
The Office of Diversity and Inclusion partnered with the Policies and Procedures team to launch a firm-wide Vendor Diversity Statement. To ensure there is a proactive approach to integrating diverse vendors within Guggenheim’s supply chain, a partnership has been formed with Strategic Sourcing to gain insight on sourcing opportunities.
To promote a diverse supplier pool through outreach, Guggenheim has established memberships with and works very closely with vendor diversity advocacy organizations that issue certifications for eligible businesses, such as with the New York & New Jersey Minority Supplier Development Council (NYNJ Council) and the Women’s President’s Educational Organization (WPEO).
The Office of Diversity and Inclusion has hosted many programs and initiatives highlighting supplier diversity, including a supplier diversity program in collaboration with IPG where vendors were invited to meet with internal stakeholders. They’ve hosted an all-day summit where all of their New York-based employees were invited to a mini fair, which showcased WPEO and women-owned business enterprises.
The first Financial Services Symposium for Supplier Diversity was held at Guggenheim in collaboration with the NYNJ Council, AIG, Citi, NYLife, and Morgan Stanley. This event brought together a consortium of thought leaders, subject matter experts and diverse business owners to share best practices and key trends in supplier diversity for the financial services industry.
They’ve also developed a unique law firm initiative that requests some of Guggenheim’s top law firms collaborate beyond a Tier 2 relationship typically built on diversity and spend reporting. Kleyman consults with the law firms to help them build their own supplier diversity programs. Although she works for a financial services company, Kleyman’s background in the non-profit sector has inspired her along the way.
“I feel like I still get to help people, which is what I really enjoy doing. I always wanted to have a job that is of service,” she said. Taking on the role as vice president of supplier diversity has fulfilled this purpose. Not only is it service oriented, but it benefits both the community and economy.