Many of us know the importance and benefits of diversity and the benefits of having a diverse supplier base. In addition to being good for the overall business community to support MBE’s and other entrepreneurial endeavors, there are real advantages to working with companies owned and operated by individuals with diverse backgrounds and experience.
Diversity brings different viewpoints and different life experiences to the work that your company is trying to accomplish – whether that’s making a product, providing a service, or solving a problem. But the idea that Supplier Diversity is accomplished by simply hiring a company with an MBE designation misses the bigger picture. I believe that a company should not just be certified as an MBE but actively practice the principles of diversity within the company, including hiring a workforce that is diverse and recognizing the benefits of working with diverse suppliers themselves.
The benefits increase exponentially when you truly commit to diversity and have goals and commitments to achieving that wherever possible and it isn’t enough for just the owner or CEO to be a qualified minority. Your workforce should represent the human race. At ATR, our goal is to ensure that our employees are a diverse group and reflect the clients we work with and the contractors we hire.
Diversity isn’t just about race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation, although those are great places to start. It includes different ages, backgrounds, life experiences, interests, learning styles, different strengths, different passions, and different talents – all working toward a common goal. Differences are what bring new ideas, new thinking, creativity, a new way of looking at something, to the table, and all of that will, in turn, help lead to success.
As a certified MBE, we fit a certain definition of what diversity means, and it’s one that fits the criteria often included in many Fortune 500 diversity initiatives and goals. But we’re much more than that. We have a diverse workforce that goes beyond the “woman-” or “minority-” owned designation. We have employees of different ages, different ethnic backgrounds, men and women, people from different parts of the U.S., and the world. 50% of our employees are Hispanic, Latino, Asian, and we have a native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander on staff. We have people who were originally born in China, El Salvador, Fiji, India, the Philippines, Poland, Saipan, Taiwan, and Vietnam.
And that’s just our internal employees. When it comes to our contractors, we are equally committed to diversity. We want to bring the benefits of diversity to our clients. The very nature of contract employees means that it is an opportunity to bring in new talent to support your existing team, and the chance to bring new ideas and experiences with them as well.
ATR is filled with people who represent diversity in all its definitions and permutations. And this is what makes us a strong and successful company. It allows us to build better relationships with our clients and our contractors. It helps us find the people our clients need no matter what the requirements. It gives us the chance to see options and suggest solutions that our clients may not have thought about or bring on a talented individual they may have overlooked.
So if you are a procurement or diversity program manager who is looking for diverse companies to do business with, take a look not only at ownership or their certification. What does their workforce look like? Do they embrace diversity as a business strategy that brings advantages including but not limited to the bottom line? And if you are an MBE, think about whether you’re truly leveraging the advantages of diversity and ensuring that your company is more than just diverse on paper.
Corporate Outreach Manager, Supplier Diversity