Foundations for a Supplier Diversity Program
Since its inception during the 1970s, the supplier diversity initiative has faced tremendous obstacles in replacing existing practices in the ways companies work with suppliers. Legal challengers have described the changes as “reverse discrimination” or as a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution. Meanwhile, diverse business owners have raced to acquire the elusive “experience” that is often used as an excuse to overlook them. Further, the perceptions of increased risks and decreased quality by using diverse businesses, hidden prejudices, and conscious and unconscious biases have made work for both, supplier diversity practitioners and diverse businesses, an uphill battle. Over time, however, companies have come to realize that supplier diversity and working with suppliers that may resemble their customers offer a more direct return on investment and tangible benefits to the organization through increased market penetration, increased spend with small and diverse vendors, and increased access to diverse markets.