Building a winning strategy for your Corporate D&I programme

Today's procurement leaders are under huge pressures to deliver savings but also in bringing value across the business and this is likely to include key areas of global focus such as sustainability and diversity.

Somewhere I read that ‘procurement have the power to change the world' -  when you think of their remit across organisations, I think they most certainly do.  Procurement need to continually hone skills to show leadership in a fast changing world. It is critical that they can engage across the organisation with the ability to win both hearts and minds.  Procurement leaders have to market their services, connect and engage with stakeholders and their issues, not just focus on mitigating risk or cost savings but to be a change maker bringing new skills and insights to the table.

Without question there are huge demands on today's procurement teams. I believe that the most powerful teams understand how to network, engage, and positively communicate the value they bring.  Building valuable relationships and their reputation as a trusted go-to partner who is always ahead of the market.

It is important to create the business case for D&I with top level backing and support.  It will always be vital to manage costs, drive savings but also to deliver value through a diverse supply chain.   Employees want to work for value driven organisations and millennials are particularly focused on transparency and evidence of values in action.

Here's a great video to share about why D&I matters:

Diverse spend may not be possible in all categories.  The key is to map out areas of opportunity within the organisation and where diverse partners exist.  Focus on understanding where those opportunities for diverse supplier introductions are possible. What does that opportunity look like, what are the blockers and how can you, as the procurement lead, think creativity to overcome these obstacles.

In structuring the best approach to drive successful outcomes - build the overall strategy, set the focus to reach organisational goals and put measures in place to monitor progress.  Work with your communications team to find the right internal strategy to communicate the approach – the rationale behind it, what it sets out to achieve and what the benefits maybe. Remember you might be passionate about D&I however, many won't be involved or really understand or engage with it. Help them to see the benefit to the organisation and to all involved in it and help them join you on the journey. Keep your supply partners involved, they will have been through this process before and can bring experience from building successful D&I models across a range of organisations. If something isn't initially working or giving you the outcomes you need, have the confidence to refine or change it, build on learnings, talk to other like-minded corporations and share insights.

By becoming a corporate member of WEConnect International you have access to a global network of diverse, women owned businesses and, an opportunity to learn from and share with other procurement leads indeed, to learn from those who have been on this journey for many years.

Here more about WEConnect International:

Just Lambert, head of procurement at Roche, told delegates at the CIPS Annual Conference 2018 that ensuring good practice across supply chains starts in procurement.  That means procurement professionals should listen to customers to know what is coming and diversity across their supply chain.  “There is still a focus on diversity in the workforce,” he said, “but we need to diversity supply chains to buy the right way.”

A recent article from Procurement Leaders on a diverse supply chain:

“Diversity” is not simply defined in black and white terms.  Diversity covers a spectrum of businesses and backgrounds: veterans, minorities, LGBT and women among others. Diversity also means different things to in different parts of the world.

But, doing business with diverse suppliers not only impacts on procurement spend, it stimulates the downstream economy.  Diverse suppliers create a sustainable supply chain by positively impacting their local economies, creating jobs and generating revenue and taxes.  These are important residuals to procurement spend that are often overlooked.

Diverse businesses can also impact your bottom line.   Many have to be nimble and agile to compete.  They have to be innovative and must design creative solutions to make more from less.  The nature of these businesses is to drive down costs but add value.

There are indeed many arguments for why having diversity in your supply chain matters.

Another great read in supply chain diversity comes from The Hackett Group Research 2017 -

‘The Hackett Group Research also shows that virtually all diversity suppliers meet or exceed expectations.  In addition, they see improved quality and often extract other benefits, including increased marketing share and access to new revenue opportunities. The research challenges the attitude of many business leaders, who worry that dedicating resources to supplier diversity will divert attention from other strategic activities.'

The research also states that ‘They use supplier diversity as a reputation-builder to help increase market share and retain talent, and rely on social mediate to develop customer and brand awareness.  They also actively education internal stakeholders on the value of supplier diversity and interact with local communities of suppliers and consumers to better understand the market, establish relationships, and share supplier diversity goals.'

WEConnect International is the only corporate-led diversity initiative of its kind, working buyers from multinational corporations and multilateral organisations that want to source from women's business enterprises across the globe.

WEConnect provides corporations with a global database and resources to develop and leverage a diverse and inclusive global value chain.  WEConnect corporate members represent over $3 trillion in annual global spend.  Each corporate member has a significant supplier diversity program and a particular interest in sourcing from women-owned suppliers around the globe.

WEConnect is not just a community of certified women owned businesses, it a corporate community – sharing and learning from each other in the network which helps drive success for their individual organisations.

As a corporation knowing where the opportunity lies and the process required, will help you in finding the right diverse suppliers from the WEConnect network.  Talk to them, get to understand their offer and make sure they are the right fit.  Give them a clear call to action and connect them to the right people.  Your job doesn't end there.

Don't leave anything to chance, you want the introduction to drive success for your busy stakeholders.  Be crystal clear what you expect from the supplier, set KPIs and milestones along the way to review progress and keep them focused.  What are they offering, why it matters to your organisation, what their credentials look like and are they right for the task, do they understand their differentiators and can they articulate their offer quickly and effectively.  What questions and help do they need from you – how can you mentor them for success?  If they win - you win!

From the supplier perspective there is no easy way to win business, but being a certified member of WEConnect really helps bring clarity to the corporations that you are a diverse business.  The same rules apply to any client development.  Do your research and the preparation so when you are introduced to the organisation you don't let the D&I buyer down.  Go in prepared, be confident, respect the time available and work your pitch around it.  Create a fabulous one page leave behind, something the buyer can share with colleagues to focus on the benefits of your offer and help drive the opportunity.

There are indeed challenges on both sides for a successful D&I programme – remember as a buyer or supplier you can share those success stories to make sure you maximise return on your investment.

As a certified WEConnect diverse supplier since 2011, The Sourcing Team have had their successes and many other benefits from being part of the WEConnect Network – if you would like to find out more do connect our CEO Gill Thorpe would be delighted to share.

WEConnect Europe 2018