How to bring diversity to your supply chain

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
29 October 2020

Top down support and sharing success stories are key tactics to promote diversity in the supply chain, an event was told.

Nedra Dickson, global supplier and sustainability lead at Accenture, said having senior stakeholders involved in the company’s Diverse Supplier Development Programme, which is running in 18 countries, was critical to its success.

Speaking at the CIPS Conference 2020, she said: “We make sure our very senior stakeholders are mentors in the programme so they get first hand to actually see what the diverse supplier is bringing to the table.”

She added: “When you leverage a small diverse business, they are more nimble and able to ramp up faster in some cases.”

Dickson said the company had reviewed how it used RFPs after noticing smaller suppliers were not responding.

“It was a process that was just so long. We are now looking at that RFP process. It is a work in progress but we have started doing smaller ones so we can get our smaller/medium businesses engaged.”

Dickson said diverse suppliers could collaborate to win contracts.

“Sometimes where it’s appropriate suppliers can go in together and bid on work,” she said. “It’s not for everything but in some instances you have to get creative. In one of our mentoring classes we had three suppliers go in together and they actually won the contract.

“I know that doesn’t work in every case and that might be a rare one but I do think that could be a possibility. A lot of corporations are really trying to have mentoring programmes where we can help those businesses grow.”

During a panel discussion on promoting supplier diversity, Mrinalini Venkatachalam, regional director, South East Asia and Oceania at WEConnect International, said: “[Diverse companies] quote competitively, they do the work in half the time, and during this time of extreme challenge small and medium businesses have really stepped up, pivoted their offerings, and filled that gap to help supply chains to be more resilient.”

Mayank Shah, founder and CEO at MSDUK, said: “Big companies need to make their supply chain and opportunities much more attractive to small businesses.

“Simplification is the way forward. There needs to be realistic definitions to make procurement processes simpler for onboarding suppliers because that is making doing business with large corporates very unattractive.”

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