Supplier diversity should be considered part of a business strategy that ensures a diverse supplier base in the procurement of goods and services for any business or organisation. It emphasises the creation of a diverse supply chain that works to secure the inclusion of diverse groups in the procurement plans for the private, public and third sectors.

Research shows that companies who are embracing diversity are more profitable than companies that don’t.

A 2015 study confirmed, on average, supplier diversity programs add $3.6 million to the bottom line for every $1 million in procurement operation costs.

The high return on investment (ROI) is undeniable; a positive ROI that boosts socially conscious reputation should push supplier diversity to the forefront of business strategy.

The case for supplier diversity is essentially no different from the case for diversity within your workforce. The sustainable impact that diversifying your supplier base can have is well documented because reaching into the widest pool of suppliers available helps business, means a better reflection of a diverse customer base and offers a greater opportunity for innovation. This is why it is suprising to find such a disconnect between where companies say they are with inclusive procurement verse
where they actually are.

The reality of supply chain diversity in the UK is currently very different to the rhetoric, for several reasons. At its core is a story of Complexity, Confidence and Confusion.

UK businesses are some way behind than those in the United States in recognising and delivering the benefits of supplier diversity. The UK Government supports the promotion of diversity in business and this is slowly becoming a feature of the procurement sourcing process, but many argue for more forceful action in the UK.

The third original DRIVE research report, named “Supplier Diversity Part One: When and where to get started”,  identifies six steps to improving Supplier Diversity.

This topic was specifically highlighted by the DRIVE network as most were failing to meet their diversity objectives in auditing and managing effective diverse supplier networks across all tiers. The qualitative research was conducted by speaking with over 45 senior Procurement, Diversity and Inclusion, HR and Operations professionals.

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