Meta EMEA: Connecting communities through supplier diversity

Meta EMEA: Connecting communities through supplier diversity

Krystle Sands, head of supplier diversity for the EMEA region on Meta's global mission to foster opportunities for diverse-owned companies

Meta's mission is to give people the power to build community and to bring the world closer together.

According to Krystle Sands, Meta’s Head of Supplier Diversity for the EMEA region, this holds true for her team’s work as well. “When it comes to supplier diversity, Meta’s goal is to create opportunities for diverse-owned companies to do business with Meta, and the people and communities that Meta connects.”

This principle of ‘connection’, acts as a sort of subtle double-entendre in Meta’s vision, since it simultaneously means bringing people together; and also empowering them to network through its technologies.

Supplier diversity at Meta is one of ambitious proportions, but it has already exceeded expectations both in terms of its reach and its impact.

In 2020, the company announced their public commitment to invest a minimum of US$1bn with diverse-owned suppliers and US$300mn with black-owned businesses. 

“We surpassed that goal in 2021, with an amazing recorded spend of US$1.4bn globally with diverse-owned companies, and US$306mn with specifically black-owned businesses in the United States. And we’ve been focusing on continued progress, says Sands.”

Such a level of growth and expansion is nothing short of incredible, and it speaks to both to how foundational DEI is at the company, as well as the unmistakable explosion in demand for such projects.

And as the demand accelerates, adept companies will move with the zeitgeist accordingly. But only the most visionary will have the wherewithal to actively stimulate that demand.

In keeping with this axiom, Sands says that Meta's Global Supplier Diversity work has evolved quite dramatically over the last few years. Originally launched in 2016, it has expanded across countries and regions ever since.

“In 2020, we launched our efforts in APAC, EMEA and LATAM, and the real focus was on making as big an impact for diverse-owned businesses as possible,” she says.

Sands knows that one of the main reasons that Meta has been so impactful is because of the way that the company communicates concerning supplier diversity within the business.

“Everyone at Meta is a buyer,” she says. “We want Meta employees to be intentional in the way that they spend their budgets, and I think that's a big part of the reason why we've been one of the fastest growing supplier diversity programs in the whole world.”

Last year, Meta was inducted into the Billion Dollar Round Table (BDR). “It was an incredible achievement for the team globally, but we've still got more to do, and much more of an impact to make,” she says.

As an organisation with such weight, Meta is perfectly oriented to have a serious impact in supplier diversity on a global scale, and we can already see its influence.

Supplier diversity is the branch of DEI that particularly focuses on the economic aspect of the grand project; recognising that economic empowerment is closely tied to, and indivisible from social empowerment. In the end, it all goes back to first principles.

“Opportunities shouldn't be based on historical systemic biases and supplier diversity really challenges that,” says Sands. “For me, that's why it's so important to hold companies to account in terms of how they spend their money; and consequently how they affect broader society in the creation of generational wealth and socioeconomic change.”

There are still many people that labour under the false impression that only the largest players, and the largest suppliers in the world are really capable of bringing about any kind of meaningful change; and so ‘why then should the small players even play?’

Krystle Sands is not one of those people. She illuminates the situation for the fatalist and disaffected by saying: “Diverse suppliers have an enormous impact on their communities. They employ people; they pay rent; they bring massive value to our economies - economies which are primarily made up of small and diverse-owned businesses that exist to really drive us forward through their innovation, entrepreneurship - and the diverse perspectives that they bring.”

From this angle, supplier diversity is grass-roots, and it is in this recognition that Meta shines.

Meta’s S2P and supplier diversity journey

Meta's source-to-pay organisation has been on an impressive transformational journey over the past few years. When Sands came aboard back in 2019, she joined a small global team who were set to expand. Since then, the team has expanded out on an international scale. They’ve grown in their tooling, their processes and their capability, all within a very short timeframe.

“We’re able to do this by building connections, by driving stakeholder engagement and by building an intuitive buying experience -- all while streamlining our processes,” says Sands. “We've aligned our performance measures to north stars that embody source-to-pay's commitment to our stakeholders. Supplier diversity sits within one of those North Stars and shines as part of our community pillar.”

From European to global supplier diversity partnerships

To have a truly inclusive supply chain, Sands says that Meta needs to partner with suppliers that are not just based in the United Kingdom or the United States. There is another kind of ‘united’ that Meta has in mind.

“Our supply chain needs to be where our customers are, and our stakeholders need to represent the communities that we work with. For this reason, collaborating with our advocacy partners to expand supplier diversity outside of the US and UK is a core priority for us.

“Further, we've been partnering with a number of organisations and two of the big partners that we are really focused on for 2023 are the European Supplier Diversity Project and the Global Supplier Diversity Alliance.”

Supplier Diversity: European, Global

The European Supplier Diversity Project started as a way to help ethnic minority businesses in Europe to do business with corporates like Meta. Their objective is to expand certification to six new markets in Europe, and Meta is a founding member of that programme.

“The Global Supplier Diversity Alliance on the other hand, will act as a governing body laying out a framework for country and regional supplier diversity initiatives. They will be investing in world class research into the business case for supplier diversity at country and regional levels, and will support other advocacy bodies to grow their certification programmes.”

Through the web of these programmes, and fittingly, the interconnectivity that they represent, we can see the network of Meta’s supplier diversity initiatives steadily expanding across the globe.

Orienting Meta’s supplier-diversity initiatives

Sands says that for 2023, Meta will continue to provide opportunities and increase spend with diverse-owned businesses. “We’ll be looking at our tooling and using data-driven decision making to build on them to ensure that stakeholders can make well-informed buying decisions.

“We’ll also be prioritising our external corporate relationships to share best practices and collaborate as part of a wider community.”

Just as Meta is aiming to connect and forge communities between diverse suppliers, we feel that Meta remaining connected to other companies and developing wider corporate communities is an inevitable part of the process.

Supplier Readiness and Champions

Sands says: “Two of the internal programmes that I'm really excited about in particular for this year are our Supplier Readiness Programme and our Champions Programme.

“The Supplier Readiness Programme will look at how we can support diverse businesses in becoming ready to work with companies like Meta, through the training, information and guidance we can provide so that they can be successful.

“The Champions program is a broader program looking internally at how we can increase advocacy and adoption of supplier diversity by our employees, and really create a community of champions to support the cause.”

Stronger, together

I ask Sands about her visions and hopes as head of supplier diversity for the EMEA region, and she doesn’t flinch.

“I hope to see more cross collaboration with corporates and advocacy partners.

“We can create a lot of positive change by sharing best practices and helping other companies to start their own supplier diversity journeys.”

Meta’s supplier diversity initiative seeks to further expand into Europe over the next few years.

“When we look at supplier diversity,” she says, “the UK is behind the US, but actually, Europe lags behind the UK.

“With the work that MSDUK are doing in the European Supplier Diversity Project; and that which WeConnect International are doing in broadening their scope, we'll see more European companies start to create their own supplier diversity programmes which will be incredibly impactful.

“I hope to see more transparency around how we're measuring supplier diversity; what we are measuring; how we're measuring, and what the standards are by which we’re measuring supplier diversity and success.”

If credibility is to be achieved, and real change is to be brought about in the world, quantifiable KPIs must be ushered in. More hope, less faith.

Sands predicts that there will be a fundamental change in the way that the economic impact from supplier diversity is measured, and in conclusion, asserts the formula that sits in essential poise at the human heart of supplier diversity as a principle - she says: “We can go further and faster, if we go together.”