How GlaxoSmithKline is increasing supplier diversity

27 September 2018

A procurement boss at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has described how she is transforming the firm’s supplier diversity programme.

Jami Bliss, who has been global head of GSK’s Procurement Center of Excellence for eight months, said the changes include hiring a new global head of supplier diversity and adding a supplier diversity team member in the UK, as well as changing the scope and direction of KPIs.

Speaking at the MSDUK Conference in Birmingham, Bliss said: “We’re making a lot of changes [and] the fantastic thing is I can’t do it fast enough. There is so much pull and when I’m talking to people about the vision that we have for inclusion in our supply base, I’m just not moving fast enough for the business.

“It’s a problem I’m willing to live with.”

GSK has also changed the way it contracts with smaller businesses and startups by reducing its contracting process for innovative startups to just two pages.

“Our contracting process is a little bit cumbersome and the size, if we were to print out the contracts, is a bit embarrassing,” said Bliss. “We found pretty quickly that small businesses and startup companies don’t have the resources or the patience to go through that process with us.

“We [now] have a contracting process that is two pages for innovative startup companies that we work with. Some of these startups can’t even afford legal support to go though our contracting process, so this has been a big game changer for us.”

From the outset Bliss said improving GSK’s supplier diversity would be a priority for her. “We were a tick box exercise for a number of years,” she said, adding that making it just a compliance exercise meant the firm was “missing a huge opportunity for GSK, for our supply base and the patients and the communities we operate in”.

Supplier diversity needs to part of company culture, said Bliss. “It has to be all around you, it has to be top down and bottom up, to really get the best of that authenticity both in your workforce and in your supply base.

“It’s going to require us to tell a story and to really help people understand what insulation in our supply base can do and the fact that it’s not a charitable initiative, it’s a business imperative.

“But I’m so excited to embark on this, seeing the support at GSK for inclusion and diversity. I know that we’ll be able to be successful.”

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