Small Business Supplier Diversity

Certified small DMWVLGBTBEs (Disadvantaged or Disabled, Minority, Women, Veteran, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgendered Business Enterprises) reap the benefits of the diversity spend goals set by government agencies and large corporations. These organizations understand the compelling business case for diversity and inclusion.  A couple years ago, we wrote several posts based on the book The Inclusion Dividend: Why Investing in Diversity and Inclusion Pays Off by Mark Kaplan and Mason Donovan.  It is a well written commentary about the history and contemporary aspects of diversity and inclusion (DI) from a human resources and organizational perspective; and, it details how diversity inclusion can impact a large organization’s bottom line.

But why just large organizations?  We think SDMWVLGBTEs should seriously consider establishing our own supplier diversity plans.  We have one because we believe that supplier diversity gives our organization an excellent foundation for providing support to our clients.  We are proud to be a certified small, women-owned and operated company and of our strategic alliances with other SDMWVLGBTBEs.  Our plan defines strategies and tactics to increase our base of diverse suppliers.  It establishes key metrics to be measured and reported semi-annually to our Board of Directors and includes guidelines for both traditional and irregular purchases for goods and services in excess of $1500.

We do mostly state contracting (and sub-contracting, too).  For every proposal we write, we enlist at least one SDMWVLGBTBE partner, usually from the state in which we’re bidding — whether the requesting agency has diversity spend goals or not.  It’s another way we “practice what we preach”.

What can you do?

You can start by creating your own supplier diversity plan. Not ready to take that step yet?  Make links on your web site for potential diverse suppliers, describing the goods and services that you routinely acquire and give them an opportunity to learn how to sell to you. Think about publishing news items about the diverse suppliers you’re currently doing business with.

There are four 3rd party certifying organizations that you could consider sponsoring at some level.  Each of these groups has a slightly different missions, certifying businesses and their owners based upon certain criteria.  You can find out more about them at their websites: www.WBENC.org (women); www.NMSDC.org (minority and/or minority women); www.USBLN.org (people with disabilities); and www.NGLCC.org (LGBT).

Looking for diverse supplier to fill a particular need? If you’re certified by or a sponsor of one of these organizations you have access to their directory where you can search for suppliers based on your need. If you’re not, go to your state’s DBE Directory listing — there you’ll find both minority and women owned businesses who meet the eligibility criteria for the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise certification.

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