Approximately once a month, I receive a call or email from a prime supplier of a major corporation wanting to discuss their need for identifying, sourcing and certifying diverse suppliers per their client’s request.
I wish I could share that these prime suppliers are eager to embark on a new adventure; eager to add solutions and fuel the growth of economies and communities, as well as transform their supply chain to a potential profit center. But alas, many of these calls are laced with anxiety and burden as they attempt to dive head first into unfamiliar territory.
As many of us in the supplier diversity universe know, the uninitiated often view supplier diversity as a quota system or social program designed to benefit selected groups while adding little to no value to the bottom line. The truth, however, is the mantra for supplier diversity has changed over the past decade from “It is the right thing to do” to “It makes good business sense.” The changing demographics in the U.S., the growth of small business goals and the uncovered buying power of traditionally overlooked communities have all been drivers for this change.
So what method of motivation can a major corporation utilize to inspire a prime supplier to include (certified) diverse suppliers into their supply chain? Holding a proverbial mountain (read: contract, payment, future business) over a prime supplier’s head isn’t always the most effective catalyst. So what is?
At its very core, education is an innate expression of curiosity; a longing to understand and be part of the world; a manifestation of purpose and passion that is carried within.
Know their why
Leadership expert Simon Sinek says, “People don’t care what you do; they care why you do it.” In his words, “Martin Luther King, Jr., gave the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, not the ‘I Have a Plan’ speech.”
Which leads us back to:
The intersection between their “why” and the impact of supplier diversity.
As any veteran supplier diversity professional will attest, in order to not only launch a supplier diversity program but also to create a sustainable one, you need to develop a business case to gain executive support. This is imperative to any program ‘s success!