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Supplier Diversity Challenges II

I found another 2007 article with more about supplier diversity challenges from a purchasing point of view.

Challenge three, finding qualified diverse suppliers made some very generic suggestions about sourcing, but: neglected to mention the Womens’ Business Enterprise National Council; didn’t offer the web addresses of the National Minority Supplier Diversity Council; did not provide the SBA’s Central Contractor’s Registry; or the SBA’s 8(a) Sources Directory.  There are many other, reputable places, to find qualified diverse suppliers; we’ve compiled a quick resource reference page that might help new purchasing staff easily find links to minority, women and veteran suppliers.

Challenge four talks about how to make sure the supplier is really diverse, rather than a “pass through” or “front”. There really is no way to be 100% sure, but like Ivory Soap* you can be 99 – 44/100ths sure that a diversity business is truly owned, controlled and operated by qualified diverse owners if that business can produce a current certification awarded by WBENC; NMSDC; the SBA; the VA; or a state government agency.  The process to get certified includes an extensive review of a business’s organizing paperwork and lengthy interviews with the business’s principals (called site visits).  These highly sought certifications assure procurement professionals that a diversity business is legitimate.

Challenge five, setting diversity spend goals for anyone else is beyond my capacity.  Our business, however, tries to meet the SBA’s goals when we make any purchase.  The Government-wide Federal Procurement Contract Award Goals are:**

  • 23 percent of prime contracts for small business
  • 5 percent of prime and subcontracts for small disadvantaged business (minority)
  • 5 percent of prime and subcontracts for woman-owned business
  • 3 percent of prime contracts for HUBZone small businesses (SBA program)
  • 3 percent of prime and subcontracts for service-disabled veteran-owned businesses

Challenges six and seven address the risk of supplier diversity programs, again not something I know much about.  However, I do know how it feels not to get any traction with supplier diversity staff at major corporations.  My business has been a certified women-owned business since 1989 (established as a WBE in 1984) so we’ve dodged the longevity bullet. We’ve successfully completed multi-million dollar projects for state governments and major corporations, and have excellent references.  That, with a couple of hard earned dollars, will get us a trendy coffee drink!  We’d love to survey your experiences with purchasing and supplier diversity departments.

* Ivory Soap is a trademarked product of the Proctor & Gamble Company.

** For more information about Federal prime and sub-contract goals visit