Establishing supplier diversity

Tech NationTech Nation 2 min read

Two of the main areas impacted by applying D&I to Operations are 1) supplier diversity and 2) office set-up. Let’s start with supplier diversity.

To address social injustices (particularly around matters of race), many companies have introduced supplier diversity programmes. These programmes aim to make positive socio-economic contributions for underrepresented groups through promoting a more inclusive approach to procurement.

Supplier diversity initiatives in Silicon Valley have typically been set up to help the future talent pipeline, but there are reasons to launch similar initiatives in the UK. To name just a couple:

  1. Supplier diversity programmes can focus on engaging and contracting with smaller firms owned by underrepresented groups to form new relationships and build value-added partnerships.
  2. Large tech companies providing mentor programmes can help smaller emerging companies create more diverse business development initiatives. This will help to enhance their capability of being competitive, achieve entrepreneurial success and contribute to the strength and vigour of the broader community.

TechStars Foundation is on a mission to improve diversity in entrepreneurship by providing opportunities for underrepresented entrepreneurs through grants, scholarships and sponsorships. By providing access and opportunity to underrepresented minorities, they aim to create stronger and more diverse entrepreneur communities worldwide.

Supplier diversity in the UK is at a very early stage, so looking to larger tech companies is a good way to understand the direction of travel, and what to prepare for as a startup or scaleup business. Here’s what some of the world’s leading tech giants had to say about how they are working towards establishing supplier diversity:

  • Intel – “We look for ways to apply our technology to address global challenges while serving as a role model for how companies should operate. Diverse-owned suppliers may end up working directly with Intel as tier 1 suppliers or with one of our prime suppliers in a tier 2 capacity. In this way, all of our suppliers, even public non-diverse companies, can create opportunities and contribute to inclusive business.”
  • Google – “We believe bringing people together with a broad range of perspectives, ideas, and experiences leads to better products and services for Google and our users. Our Supplier Diversity programme is designed to connect more minority-, women-, LGBT-, disability-, and veteran-owned businesses to opportunities within Google.”
  • Dell – “Dell develops strategic, sustainable relationships with a very diverse group of qualified suppliers. By working with diverse suppliers, we seek to provide opportunities to groups and communities who are or have been historically, socially and economically underrepresented.”

The tech sector stands to gain from these inclusive approaches, and startup and scaleup tech founders can embed the very same principles into their businesses from the beginning. 

Supplier Diversity checklist

As supplier diversity initiatives are still very much in their infancy in the UK and Europe (with the Supplier Diversity Council UK only being set up in February of this year), this is currently an area to focus on educating yourself and your team about. For now, you can: 

  • Review how you select suppliers for your business: Set out your own supplier diversity charter that outlines the types of businesses you want to work with.
  • Outline how your business can support the wider tech ecosystem: This will involve identifying where you can provide opportunities throughout your supply chain.

< Return to the toolkit

You might also be interested in…