How diversity was built into a procurement overhaul

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
18 May 2022

Data and research company Kantar decided to combine a drive to improve diversity with a procurement transformation.

The company, which supplies information to clients including supermarkets and media companies, was bought by Bain Capital in 2019, prompting a shake-up in procurement.

Stephen Day, CPO at Kantar, who joined the company in 2020, said Bain identified procurement as a “big area to change and restructure the economics of the business”.

Speaking at the CIPS Sustainable Procurement Summit, Day said he set four objectives:

1. Building a team. He started with two team members but there are now 35.

2. Putting processes, policies, procedures and data “at the heart of the business”.

3. Building diversity and inclusion.

4. Savings would follow naturally. “I’m pleased to say the savings have taken care of themselves,” he said.

The diversity and inclusion agenda was in turn broken down into three areas: the operational model, supplier diversity, and social action.

Day said he purposely did not put himself at the centre of hiring decisions and empowered his team to do so, while “Covid was a great leveller” in hiring decisions because video calls screened out bias.

“I am still learning,” he said. “I would not pretend to have all the answers.”

Day said the company had added a 20% weighting for diversity in contracts and there was a target of 12% diversity in the supplier base by 2025.

He said Kantar was using Coupa software to collect diversity data from suppliers and put it “through a washing machine” to learn “who we’re doing business with” and “what their credentials are”.

Day described how a scheme was launched to bring in students from schools in under-served communities to work in the procurement department.

“Some of the issues we have with diversity start with the creation of opportunity,” he said.

He added: “We are on an interesting journey on who we’re doing business with and starting to shape how we want to put our commercial spend into those suppliers.

“We have seen no economic issues associated with this strategy.”

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