Supplier diversity training is the set of actions taken to develop a multicultural workforce and promote diversification. This training is typically part of the diversity initiatives that are implemented by larger corporations, universities, non-profit organizations etc. The goal is to increase the number of suppliers owned by minorities or local businesses with diverse groups. The term “supplier” may refer to any entity selling services or products (including buyer/vendors) and does not necessarily mean they must be minority/minority owned businesses or disadvantaged business enterprise certified companies. Supplier diversity usually refers to procurement for goods and services from diverse suppliers but can also include employee recruitment as well.
The US Department of Commerce defines supplier diversity as “the strategic management of government’s procurement and supply base to ensure the inclusion, on an equitable basis, of suppliers that reflect the diverse makeup of American society in all Federal supply and service categories”.
Supplier diversity efforts will focus on increasing the number of minority-owned businesses or disadvantaged business enterprise (DBE) certified companies working with a particular entity. As such, supplier diversity focuses more on ethnicity rather than on gender equity or other considerations .
Supplier diversity training is a way to help diversify an organization, to expand the number of minority-owned businesses and other companies with diverse groups. This can be seen as part of a larger diversity initiative involving the whole organization (both business and non-business units), including recruitment, retention, employee development and others. It helps increase the number of qualified suppliers owned by minorities or local businesses with diverse groups. The goal is to create more opportunities for individuals from underrepresented communities. Supplier Diversity Training can also include training on specific areas like how to develop proposals in response to RFPs or preparation of tax credit applications such as MBE Bonus/Bond Program .
Supplier diversity training can sometimes involve the implementation of set policies to prevent internal bias. One such example is a change in how suppliers from diverse groups are selected based on their experience as opposed to solely on what they can do for the company. This involves breaking down barriers and changing mindsets so that a more diverse workforce can be recruited, retained and developed.
Trainers may use different strategies depending on organization goals or the area being trained such as leadership skills, financial management or technical expertise. These techniques could include lectures, exercises, role play scenarios etc. The training session should be tailored according to specific needs of the audience.
The goals of supplier diversity training usually focus on actions that will increase the number of qualified minority-owned businesses or local businesses with diverse groups. Each action is a step towards reaching that goal and these can range from changing procurement policies, conducting thorough research on suppliers to updating the current training programs to include topics on supplier diversity .
Training on issues like internal bias will help with managing cultural differences in the workforce and avoid unproductive conflict while strengthening relationships among co-workers. It also increases awareness of how subtle biases affect hiring decisions. Being aware of internal bias allows for them to be corrected and used as an advantage when dealing with minority suppliers. Training individuals in areas like leadership skills will prepare them to face these challenges more effectively and confidentially. Supplier diversity training may also include information on how business awards work, providing a competitive edge to new businesses or how to get credit for a business.
Training on writing an executive summary can help increase the chances of a proposal’s approval while training on developing proposals could help with getting the business accepted in more government programs. Supplier diversity training may also focus on employee development programs.
The ideal way to run supplier diversity training is through sessions that combine hands-on activities and interactive discussions allowing participants to put theory learned into practice. Each session should be planned from start to finish, including what will be done and who will do it.