The term Supplier Diversity is used when a corporation purposefully chooses a diverse supplier as a vendor.
In Canada, a business can qualify as a diverse supplier if they are 51% owned, operated, and controlled by one or more of the following:
Many large corporations in the US and Canada have supplier diversity initiatives within their organizations. In Canada, the major reasons corporations engage in supplier diversity are:
As Merck says, ‘Our suppliers should reflect the people we are in business to serve… our customers.’
Several of the banks, including TD and RBC are actively engaged in supplier diversity, as are companies like Telus and Ernst and Young.
In the US, the Billion Dollar Roundtable recognizes corporations that have achieved spending of at least $1 billion with diverse suppliers. Wal-Mart, Microsoft, IBM, Ford, GM, Avis-Budget Group Inc, are some of the 18 corporations that have hit this milestone.
Supplier Diversity opens a door of opportunity for entrepreneurs to take their business to the next level. Identifying as a diverse supplier, either through a certification process or by self registering, is the first step in connecting your business to new supply chain opportunities.
This really depends on which Corporations you want to sell to and what their Supplier Diversity policies are. Some corporations require vendors to certify, where others are content with self-registration.
The cost of Certification depends on who is doing the certifying.
Currently, women owned businesses can certify through either WBE Canada or WEConnect International and the fee is $750+ annually. WEConnect International has a sliding scale based on revenue of the business being certified.
Minority owned businesses can certify through CAMSC. CAMSC requires a onetime flat fee of $275 plus an annual membership fee based on the business’s revenue.
Gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or transgender owned businesses can register through CGLCC’s LGBT Supplier Diversity Program. The cost is $200 or more, depending on whether you are a member of affiliate LGBT organization.
There is no certification body for veteran owned businesses in Canada at this time.
There are several networking opportunities that are hosted by different supplier diversity support organizations and councils. There are conferences held both in Canada and in the US which promote connections between buyers and suppliers.
The WBENC (Women Business Enterprise National Council) (pronounced Wee-Bank) Conference and Business Fair provides an opportunity to access companies that are looking to purchase from diverse suppliers. This year’s conference will take place in Philadelphia in June 2014. This is the largest WBE event, connecting more than 3,000 WBENC and WEConnect certified –WBEs to Corporate and Fortune 500 companies.