Best Practices

In the world of supplier diversity literature, best practices are defined and expressed by the professionals in corporations and government agencies. SDMWVLGBTBE (Small Disadvantaged or Disabled, Minority, Women, Veteran, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgendered Business Enterprise) owners are often unaware of the challenges facing supplier diversity organizations.

We’ve written about The Inclusion Dividend: Why Investing in Diversity and Inclusion Pays Off by Mark Kaplan and Mason Donovan, a book that we believe provided the roadmap for best practices in D&I, though its focus was certainly more human resources oriented. Essentially, they document and encourage organizations to practice:

  • Executive commitment to diversity.
  • Diversity in planning, vision and mission.
  • Diversity as a core value.
  • Leadership teams mirroring customer base and its general population diversity.
  • Reporting on established diversity metrics.
  • Mentoring programs to increase diverse participation.
  • Diversity awareness training.

When you Google “Supplier Diversity Best Practices”, you’ll find that the top recommendations are very similar:

  • Top management support.
  • Purchasing committed to supplier diversity
  • Set measurable goals and make sure supplier diversity improvements are made.
  • Develop/track qualified diverse supplier pool (database).
  • Partner with supplier diversity organizations (;;;, etc.).
  • Promote diversity.
  • Make diverse spend flow down (through subcontracting criteria).

What can we, as MBE, WBE, VBE, DOBE, SDVOSB or LGBT business enterprises, do to mirror these best practices in our own companies?

  • First, regardless of size, we should be committed diversity in our own organizations.  That can  seem overwhelming to a small business, but even a one person business has suppliers and can make its purchases from other diverse suppliers or large suppliers who are committed to supplier diversity.
  • We can establish our own formal supplier diversity programs, something we wrote about last year. We can partner with other diverse suppliers to offer unique solutions to address our clients’ business needs while offering them additional resources to meet their diversity goals.
  • We can grow our capacity through strategic partnerships in order to compete for larger projects with our customers who are committed to diverse spend.  For example, innovative building material supplier partnering with a general contractor or with architects; a software product company with an IT services provider; equipment rental with masonry contractor; or, a savory caterer with a baker.  The possibilities are endless.

Supplier diversity is global issue for the large companies that so many SDMWVLGBTBEs want as customers.  It would be in their, and our own, best interests to help them achieve their diversity goals and objectives.