Scoutbee & supplier.io on making headway with supplier D&I

Supplier diversity experts at Scoutbee and supplier-io reveal their top strategies for getting a supplier diversity programme up and running

Multiple waves of hard-hitting supply chain disruptions have characterised the past few years, and procurement teams across the board are having to be increasingly flexible, creative, and dynamic in the way they work with their suppliers.

Long gone are the days when simply finding the right product, service, or component – at the right price and with the required quality – was enough. But no longer. In today’s world, Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) compliance is also a headline requirement. 

Increasingly, companies must demonstrate they’re guided by ESG principles. This includes every link in their supply chain, which is where supplier diversity becomes so important. 

Are my suppliers applying circular economy principles? Are they using sustainable and fair production methods (as well as remaining within budget)? Are they owned, operated, and controlled by people traditionally underrepresented or underserved? 

These are the kind of questions organisations must be able to answer, so we asked two supply chain professionals to give their top five strategies for companies looking to grow supplier diversity. 

First of these experts is Roger Blumberg, Senior VP of Global Marketing at Scoutbee, an AI-driven platform designed to give businesses deep insights into their supply base. The following are Blumberg’s five tips:

Gain executive support 

Every successful supplier diversity programme was born out of a comprehensive, strategic plan supported by executive leadership. Creating this framework up front will help you align your organisation behind common objectives and empower the growth of your supplier diversity programme. 

But where should you begin? Your supplier diversity objectives and goals should be approved and supported at the executive level to earn overall organisational buy-in.

Be specific about supplier diversity

Diversity means a lot of things to a lot of people. Failing to define your programme’s scope and policies up front can result in unnecessary headaches down the road. On a basic level, defining the scope of your programme means identifying what diversity categories your programme will focus on. 

For instance, you may choose to focus specifically on small businesses owned by women, minorities, veterans, or some other diverse supplier group. Eventually, your programme might grow to encompass many different groups, but defining a clear starting point will help you get things off the ground.

Have a supplier diversity champion

Supplier diversity programmes won’t survive without a face that is owning and guiding the evolution and growth of the initiative. Ideally, this is a full-time person, but at the beginning, it doesn’t have to be as long as you enable him or her with the right data and technology to help drive integrated, measurable processes across the organisation. If you cannot allocate a dedicated person for the role, consider bringing in a consultant. 

Align goals on supplier diversity and ESG 

Before you can build a strategic plan, you need to identify the business objectives that are most important to your organisation and how your supplier diversity programme might influence those objectives. By aligning supplier diversity goals and initiatives with larger business objectives and your overall company mission and values, you’ll earn the confidence of the executive team and stakeholder buy-in, while driving new opportunities to reduce your company’s carbon footprint and overall environmental impact. 

Understand your baseline by leveraging data

Take a deep dive into your supply base to see where your suppliers stand when it comes to diversity. Can’t do it yourself? Then supplier intelligence solution providers such as Scoutbee can help you build a more diverse, agile and sustainable supplier portfolio that can withstand current and future demands.

Our second expert is Ashlee Nelson, who is Senior VP of Sales and Partnerships at supplier.io, a provider of supplier diversity data, software, and management solutions. These are Nelson’s top five supplier diversity tips:

Communicate and train

Creating an internal communication plan will help you keep everyone in your organisation on the same page about programme goals, initiatives, and current challenges. This may mean setting up regular, cross-departmental meetings and/or training on how to use a supplier diversity software platform. Along with laying out a clear internal communication strategy, consider also how you’ll communicate with your suppliers, both current and future. As your programme grows, maintaining clear and consistent communication with both employees and your supplier base will become even more important. 

To set your programme up for success, create a plan for how your communication process will evolve as your diverse supplier network expands.

Enlist the help of a partner

A strategic partner like supplier.io will guide you through all the necessary steps and ensure that you create a world-class supplier diversity programme. The right partner will also help you build on that foundation after it’s been established so that you continue to evolve in the right direction.  

Track supplier diversity results

Once the supplier diversity programme is up and running, be sure to regularly benchmark performance towards your objectives with a bi-annual or quarterly revalidation of your supply base via a data-enrichment process. This is a critical process to ensure your programme is seeing growth, identifying challenges before they become problems and capitalising on opportunities immediately. 

Celebrate supplier diversity in your organisation

Raise your programme’s profile and stress your company’s commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). Seek to normalise supplier diversity within your organisation by giving frequent updates and celebrations of the programme’s successes. 

Remember that supplier diversity is a company-wide endeavour, meaning that everyone in the company is a stakeholder and should be receiving frequent updates. Include metrics and success stories about the programme in corporate social responsibility reports, company newsletters, and other internal communications.

Promote supplier programme externally

Showcase your supplier diversity progress externally by communicating growth and expansion. If you’re updating your goals because you’ve met previous KPIs, then that’s cause for celebration. If you’re expanding into a global supplier diversity programme, then your marketing team should get the message out in the US and in the new regions where you’re operating.

Whether you’re announcing the launch of your programme or highlighting the successes and growth of an established programme, you should be working with your marketing department to highlight your supplier diversity progress.


Roger Blumberg is Senior VP of Global Marketing at Scoutbee, an AI-driven platform designed to give businesses insight into their supply base.
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