While at JP Morgan Chase I managed the supplier diversity program from strategy creation through to the actual implementation process that included aligning to the firm’s mission, establishing spending goals, education development, and community outreach activities.
Supplier diversity has gained greater visibility in the public sphere maturing over many years in the United States while gaining significant traction and a renewed focus globally—especially over the past five years.
While JP Morgan’s supplier diversity initiative has been in place for 27 years, in the past four years, it was refreshed to align and reenergize efforts in this vital area.
It’s actually a good business practice to periodically re-envisioning how we do things to reflect changing marketplace realities ensures ongoing relevance and program effectiveness.
To put it another way, creating an effective and sustainable program isn’t a one-and-done process, one must continuously monitor the current marketplace against your program status and adjust to achieve best-in-class performance.
A Broader Lens
When it comes to supplier diversity and inclusion, we must view it through an ever-expanding lens of increasing social awareness and understanding of how we support the broader community while creating diverse economic opportunities.
In this context, it is important to stress that diversity is not limited to an organization and its suppliers. It also includes the end-customer who is, with increasing frequency, wanting to identify with the businesses with whom they chose to spend their money. Ultimately, diversity and inclusion are in everyone’s best interest economically, socially, and emotionally. Think of it as a value alignment between a business and the community it seeks to serve regardless of whether it is a brick and mortar store or an online enterprise.
Of course, supplier diversity is more than a nice or right thing to do; it is a business imperative for attracting new customers and retaining existing ones.
Take a moment to reflect on this last statement.
Citing the often-quoted reference to studies that indicate it is five times more costly to get a new customer than retaining an existing one, a 2019 Forbes article said most businesses miss the bigger picture by focusing on this number alone. The “bigger picture” is recognizing that “personalization can increase overall consumer spending up to 500%” which means that “connecting with customers and delivering value” takes on even greater importance as we become more social and less transactional in our buying decisions.
A Bigger Horizon
Creating visibility and increasing traction internally for a diversity initiative—something I will be talking about in the upcoming FORGE Supplier Diversity and Inclusion conference—is not complicated.
When it comes to diversity, we must look to proactively increase a program’s visibility, including creating an environment that fosters inclusion in the supply chain and beyond.
Starting with internal communication through various activities, including town halls, establishing an online website, and forming groups that focus on critical areas of diversity practices are practical engagement tools.
Through these activities, you not only energize employees but create a sense of their belonging to something bigger—something special.