All industries are in a race to infuse more diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) into their business operations. Whether their customers, investors, employees and/or business partners are asking for it—or, they’re doing it on their own—companies continue to roll out initiatives that address the need for more diversity within their operations.
The supply chain is one area where we’re seeing a brighter spotlight shining on DEI right now. According to Gartner’s 2022 Supply Chain DEI Survey, 75% of supply chain organizations consider ethnicity and race in their DEI strategies and objectives. But Gartner says there is still lots of hard work to be done: The same survey finds that just 40% of those organizations are working on specific supply chain DEI initiatives.
Companies that ignore DEI may be missing out, and particularly when it comes to supplier diversity. According to Hootology’s Corporate Diversity Index:
- Consumers who perceive a brand as committed to diversity are 3 times more likely to consider the brand's products/services compared to those who do not.
- Consumers who perceive a brand as committed to diversity are 3.5 times more likely to purchase the brand's products/services compared to those who do not.
- An increase in awareness of a brand’s Supplier Diversity Program of just 1% will lead to an additional 800,000 U.S. consumers using the brand’s products/services.
- Nearly 70% of employees and job seekers say a diverse workforce is an important factor when evaluating companies and job offers, New Hope Network
- Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 21% more likely to outperform on profitability and 27% more likely to have long-term value creation.
- Companies with the most ethnically and culturally diverse boards are 43% more likely to experience higher profits.
IntelliTrans Takes Supply Chain Diversity Seriously
Regina Rice, IntelliTrans’ Human Resources Manager, says the company has sharpened its focus on diversity, equity and inclusion in recent years and that IntelliTrans’ 2023 goals include retaining its existing talent base, fostering an even more inclusive corporate culture and effectively communicating that commitment to employees, customers, partners and other stakeholders.
“Our vision and mission statement includes language that discusses diversity. We’re using that to socialize—as a business—the importance of being an inclusive company,” Rice explains. IntelliTrans is also introducing new policies that further emphasize its commitment to recruiting and hiring diverse job candidates. And it partners with women-focused supply chain organizations and others that serve specific ethnicities.
IntelliTrans is also working to broaden the diversity of its Customer Advisory Board, knowing that a mix of different backgrounds, ethnicities, genders and interests brings the highest value to the company itself and the supply chain sector as a whole.
“DEI is about much more than just doing what’s right,” says Rice. “Knowing this, we’re continually putting practices into place, partnering with recruiting firms that bring in diverse talent and leveraging the insights of people from different sectors of life and the world.”
5 Ways to Foster Diversity in Supply Chain
Here are five steps you can take today to begin fostering more diversity in your own supply chain operations:
1. View DEI as a value driver for your organization.
Much like environment, social and governance (ESG) doesn’t have to be a cost center for your company, DEI doesn’t have to be either. In fact, it can be a value driver. In Forbes, Insight Sourcing Group’s Rod Robinson writes about how having a diverse supplier base can provide access to new customer markets. By developing a supplier diversity strategy, vision and roadmap, for example, one company uncovered a significant new revenue opportunity via a partnership with a diverse supplier. That supplier provided access to a federal contract that required more capacity than the diverse supplier could provide alone. “This is a great example of connecting the dots between the value of supplier diversity and market share growth,” Robinson writes.
2. Know where your money is being spent.
If your organization spends $150 million annually across a handful of major categories, you can use that information to refocus your diverse supplier inclusion efforts. “During this process, you may discover opportunities to enhance existing diverse supplier relationships that drive increased profitability,” Robinson says. “There are data classification/enrichment technology and tools that aid in the process of identifying suppliers by diversity status (minority, woman, etc.).”
3. Train leaders on the value of DEI.
Show leaders specific, concrete examples of how inclusive behaviors can be embedded into general leadership behaviors, rather than teaching inclusivity as an isolated skill. “To truly sustain behavior change, embed bias mitigation efforts into existing processes (e.g., succession management),” Gartner says in its DEI report. “Making small tweaks to processes helps nudge leaders away from unintentional biases and prompt inclusive behavior.”
4. Don’t rush it.
Start with a strong foundation and find ways to authentically integrate DEI into your supply chain operations. This may mean working harder to buy from a more diverse supplier base, hiring a more diverse workforce to run your supply chain operations or another related goal. Think beyond “lip service,” ask employees for their ideas and get management onboard with the effort.
5. Prepare to make mistakes.
When trying to be more diverse and inclusive, be prepared to make mistakes. “It’s important to understand you will mess up,” diversity training expert Nikki McCord tells New Hope Network. “Have a strategy in place and figure out what you’re going to do when you inevitably mess up.” Brace yourself for feedback, consider how you’re going to build upon that input and also how you’re going to deal with problems as they surface.