Supplier Diversity OrganizationsSupplier diversity organizations are supplier diversity programs that are membership-based and privately funded. They provide an avenue for supplier diversity professionals to develop their skills, network with supplier diversity professionals within their industry, and advance supplier diversity through various functions and activities, which include developing supplier relationships on behalf of corporations; providing supplier-specific training at no cost to suppliers; and assisting small business owners in obtaining government contracts.

    Supplier Diversity Organizations (SDOs) emerged due to the increasing complexity of supplier relationships which made it difficult for supplier diversity professionals to navigate on their own without collaboration among professionals from different companies. The primary objective is to bring industries together with by creating a social network where supplier diversity practitioners can learn from one another’s successes and failures while gaining credibility across diverse supplier segments. In addition, success stories that supplier diversity practitioners share with their peers can assist supplier diversity professionals in other organizations to apply the same method and achieve similar results.

    Supplier Side Experience

    In terms of supplier-side experience, supplier diversity professionals gain credibility and visibility across supplier communities by being a part of a supplier diversity organization which allows them to belong to an elite group of supplier diversity professionals who have been selected for membership due to their experience and success record among suppliers.

    SDOs also provide members access to free education at events hosted by the organization throughout the year that covers various topics ranging from supplier development strategies, doing business with government entities, how small businesses can participate in corporate programs, etc.

    Supplier Diversity Organizations include:

    The following is an example of a supplier diversity organization that hosts supplier development training programs for supplier diversity practitioners at the local level.

    Supplier Diversity Organizations have played significant roles in promoting supply chain diversity by hosting supplier summits on behalf of corporations. 

    Summit participants include:

    •      (1) Executives from Fortune 500 companies and executives from diverse supplier segments such as small business owners.
    •      (2) Women-owned enterprises (WBEs).
    •      (3) Minority-and veteran-owned businesses (M/WBEs).
    •      (4) Service-disabled veteran-owned small business (SDVOSB)-certified supplier companies.
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    The supplier summits are usually hosted by the supplier diversity organization, which is in partnership with a corporation or government entity that wishes to promote supplier diversity among its supply base. The summit agenda consists of supplier development education, supplier relationship building, supplier certification presentations; keynote speaker(s) discussing how they support supplier diversity initiatives within their corporations; a panel discussion on resolving common issues supplier diversity practitioners encounter when working with diverse suppliers; and networking opportunities between participant organizations.

    In addition to the activities as mentioned above and events, SDOs also:

    Supplier Diversity Organizations are critical in supplier diversity initiatives. As supplier diversity professionals from different supplier companies travel across the country to attend supplier diversity events hosted by SDOs, they build relationships with supplier diversity practitioners from other corporations and learn how to best support supplier diversification efforts within their own organizations.

    The Importance of Supplier Diversity Initiatives

    The importance of supplier diversity initiatives has been recognized not only among Fortune 500 companies but also among smaller businesses. The reason is that a company’s supply chain can be broken down into three parts:

    (1) the manufacturing side

    (2) the distribution channel

    (3) suppliers

    These days, no business entity succeeds without building strong supplier relations because suppliers have become increasingly more important in delivering quality products to end consumers within a reasonable time at a competitive price. Therefore, supplier diversity organizations play a fundamental role in supplier diversity initiatives by educating supplier diversity professionals from diverse supplier companies on how to build support among their own supplier communities for supplier diversification efforts that are being promoted by both corporate entities and government entities.