Making Supplier Diversity Work

While the number of small and diverse business enterprises is growing dramatically, companies are consolidating their supply chains as they seek to reduce cost and increase revenue. In 2008, Dartmouth’s Dr. Leonard Greenhalgh wrote about the need for “a different paradigm of intervention” to safeguard and improve “the economic well being of its populace.” Kenton Clark, at Diversity Inc., addressed how the “program elimination and the overall economy … caused setbacks within supplier diversity programs.” In 2009 the Network Journal, Salome Kilkenny wrote that “the Billion Dollar Roundtable, a nonprofit made up exclusively of corporations that spend at least $1 billion annually with minority and woman-owned suppliers, concedes that minority business enterprises are not getting their fair share of business. Supplier diversity, it suggests, is still a promise to keep.”

But, there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel. Just last week The Network Journal published an article about the estimated 27.2 million US small businesses that are now owned by or employ more than half of Americans. “For corporations, building small-business capacity is more than community give-back. Not only do they benefit from the healthy local and national economies that strong small businesses help to create, but they also see their support for such businesses as an investment in building a reliable, viable supplier base.” And, the USBE recently asked several major US organizations about their continuing commitment to diversity in employment and suppliers. Burger King’s April Watkins encourages and advises her counterparts in the Diversity Journal. And in the Boston Business Journal, Fred McKinney explains why supplier diversity is good for the bottom line, while Richard Hernandez and Joyce Tabak discuss how supplier diversity organizations can help by mentoring MWBE businesses.

Felicia Watlington speaks for many small and diverse business owners in her article about what MWBEs want. A strong economy requires that small, diverse businesses contribute to the creation of jobs, products and services. Rod Robinson helps “connect actual buyers with actual suppliers based on actual needs” to make supplier diversity easier.

Healthy economies require strong small and MWBE businesses to create jobs, products or deliver services. Corporate/government purchasing and supplier communities must cooperate in developing reliable, viable relationships to make supplier diversity work effectively.


  1. Andrew on May 24, 2011 at 9:46 am

    It is very encouraging to see some movement in the positive direction for all SMWDBE-type enterprises, which as you so eloquently state are truly the backbone of the American economy. However, I’ve seen and heard words like this before. And while they are encouraging, I admit nothing will really change until the actions take the place of these words. As long as GetDiversityCertified and its blog keeps bringing these issues to the forefront, maybe we can enact positive changes in actions instead of just words. I’ve got my fingers crossed!

  2. Jon on July 19, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    Question, Can a Certifed Small Disadvantaged business that has government contracts in place, get tax credits from using a Diverse Supplier?

    • Joanne on July 19, 2011 at 6:38 pm

      That’s an excellent question — we’ll research it!