I recently had the opportunity to speak with Colleen Mayer, Manager of Supplier Diversity & Sustainability at MillerCoors. Colleen is a recent recipient of the 2012 Champions in Diversity Award and has been at the forefront of Supplier Diversity and development since 1998.
Q. You have been working hard in Supplier Diversity for over 15 years- what would you say to a corporation that is on the fence about the importance of participating in Supplier Diversity initiatives?
A. I would ask questions. I would ask them what percentage of diverse consumers are represented in their industry and if they want diverse customers to buy from them. Also, what percentage of diverse customers reflects their sales and what is the plan to increase that percentage? Demographics have changed, and the bottom line is “it’s about business”.
Q. During your time at MillerCoors you have increased MWBE spending by over 200% from 2002 to 2007. That is a huge accomplishment! What advice would give to a corporate diversity professional looking to expand their diversity spend?
A. It’s important to understand what commodities your company buys, understand what they need and then communicate that to diverse suppliers. I am an inch deep and 500 miles wide; I need to know a little bit about everything. A supplier will come and ask questions about procurement practices from IT hardware to Marketing to Distribution services. The key is understanding the details about the different areas of your company.
Q. What is one piece of advice that you would give to MWBE’s who are looking to engage in business with MillerCoors?
A. The key principle here is to do your homework. With the internet there is no excuse anymore. Research the company that you wish to engage and understand the company history, background, locations. Be educated about what the company will buy. Figure out major needs in the company and show how your company will provide a solution for this need on a local, regional, or national level and do not over-promise.
Q. What is the most satisfying part about your job in Supplier Diversity & Supplier Sustainability?
A. Working with diverse suppliers and watching them learn and grow and succeed. And I learn a lot from them as well. As a supplier diversity professional, the suppliers that I speak with have contracts at other companies and may have seen best practices that they are willing to share with me. Same with supplier sustainability, that is a big initiative now and I don’t think it is going to go away. We have a work force generation that is very keen on sustainability and want to work with companies that are also keen on sustainability
Q. You have won numerous awards for your work in developing the Supplier Diversity & Supplier Sustainability initiatives at MillerCoors. This year you were named one of 2012’s “Champions in Diversity” by Diversitybusiness.com. What do these accolades mean to you?
A. All of the accolades really need to go to the procurement team that I work with and the senior leaders at MillerCoors, because if it wasn’t for their commitment then Supplier Diversity wouldn’t work.