We Need to Do More to Support Diverse Suppliers

Posted in: Diversity

This blog is part of our series with the NMSDC in support of our partnership for the Supplier Diversity for Emerging Markets & Existing Organizations work session on April 29, 2021 at 2 p.m. EST. You can click here to register now.

Diversity needs to be more than just a business consideration for organizations in the year 2021 – it needs to be a core value. We want our organizations and our suppliers to reflect the communities in which we work and live. But how do you find diverse suppliers for your organization? And how do you help the diverse suppliers in your community continue to grow and thrive, even if you may not be doing business with them right now?

As the contingent labor Sourcing Manager for Allstate, diversity has always been a big part of what I do. Coming into the business world as a woman at the start of my career was difficult – there weren’t many women making business decisions. I wanted to make sure that my experience became the exception, not the norm, and not just for women – veterans, BIPOC and those with disability all deserve a seat at the table.

If you’re looking to add diversity to your supplier list, I suggest you first start by considering diversity in the kinds of businesses you add to your supplier list. One size does not fit all, and by including a variety of differently sized firms – single office, multi office, regional, multinational – you will increase your opportunities to find diverse suppliers and achieve your goals.

There are a ton of diverse suppliers out there who are really small. It’s really important that organizations do something to help those companies. That of course includes doing business with them, but if we’re really committed to supplier diversity – what else are we doing to help those companies? At Allstate, we have developed a couple of programs to help answer that question:

  1. Allstate Mentoring – this is a program where diverse suppliers can apply to be connected with an Allstate executive for 18 months. There’s no guarantee it gets you business, but it helps you grow your organization. Our experienced executives pass on their knowledge and expertise to suppliers, who can use that to expand their business. Not everyone goes on to work directly with Allstate, but there are a number of success stories of mentored businesses now doing business with Allstate.
  2. Diversity Exchange – this annual program changes yearly, but the focus is on helping diverse suppliers nail down their marketing. For example, one year we had diverse suppliers record their elevator pitch. Our team reviewed the pitches and then coached the suppliers on how they could improve them and identify what makes their business unique. Another year, we presented the supplier community what it looks like from our side – what companies like Allstate are looking for – so they can help market themselves.

These are just a couple of examples. When you’re thinking about programs your organization can put together to support diverse suppliers, ask yourselves these questions:

  • What are other companies doing to help grow the community?
  • You may be a member of NMSDC, but are you active?
  • Are you volunteering to help the community?

The answers to these questions can help you develop the right program and approach for your support. If you or your organization are a diverse supplier, you can learn more about our support programs as they become available on our website. If you’re in the contingent labor space and what to make sure you’re doing all you can to support diverse suppliers, check out the VMS Professionals association, where we meet only monthly to discuss best practices in the field.