Procurement plays a pivotal role in driving Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) initiatives within organisations, (and beyond - among their stakeholders). By implementing effective strategies and adopting inclusive practices, organisations can create a procurement process that embraces diversity, promotes equal opportunities and fosters a culture of inclusivity.
This article presents the top 10 DE&I procurement strategies and tips, along with additional insights, to help organisations navigate the path towards a more diverse and equitable procurement and supply chain.
From setting clear goals and assessing the current state of procurement DE&I to celebrating successes and utilising technology, these strategies offer a roadmap for organisations aiming to create a more inclusive procurement workplace.
By adopting these strategies, organisations can not only enhance the representation of diverse suppliers within their supply chain but also cultivate an environment where all employees feel valued, respected and empowered.
Moreover, embracing DE&I in procurement enables organisations to tap into the rich array of perspectives, experiences and innovations that diverse suppliers bring along with them, driving competitive advantage and sustainable business growth.
As organisations embark on their DE&I procurement journey, it is essential to recognise that it’s an ongoing process that requires patience, persistence and continuous improvement.
By proactively engaging with stakeholders, investing in employee development and collaborating with external partners, organisations can create a noteworthy cycle of DE&I, where the benefits extend beyond their own operations to influence the broader business community and society at large.
Let's delve into the top 10 DE&I procurement strategies and tips and recommendations, to empower organisations in their pursuit of a diverse and inclusive procurement process.
1. Establishing clear and measurable goals
The foundation of any successful Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) procurement initiative, lies in setting clear and specific goals. By defining objectives that are measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound, organisations can effectively track progress and make necessary adjustments. For instance, a goal might be to increase the percentage of spend with diverse suppliers by 10% within the next year. These measurable objectives will allow for progress in a way that nebulous designs will fail to meet.
2. Assessing the current state of procurement DE&I
Once goals are in place, it is crucial to assess the current state of DE&I within the procurement process. Conducting surveys among procurement employees, analysing procurement data and engaging in dialogue with suppliers can reveal areas that require improvement. This assessment serves as a diagnostic tool, helping organisations identify gaps and opportunities. In order to get where they’re going, it’s important for organisations to know where they are. We are establishing our baselines here.
3. Cultivating an inclusive procurement culture
Inclusivity forms the bedrock of successful DE&I initiatives. To foster an inclusive procurement culture, organisations must create a welcoming and respectful workplace environment for employees from diverse backgrounds. Initiatives such as developing a diversity and inclusion policy, establishing employee resource groups, and providing comprehensive training to procurement staff can contribute to cultivating a culture that values and embraces diversity. Do not let your procurement staff feel as if they’re undervalued. The human touch is the most important, in all of business.
4. Partnering with diverse suppliers
Enhancing diversity within the supply chain can be achieved through partnerships with diverse suppliers. Collaboration with these suppliers not only opens doors to new markets and ideas but also supports minority-owned businesses. Organisations can seek out diverse suppliers by attending trade shows and conferences, proactively reaching out to minority-owned businesses, and establishing supplier diversity programs. Procurement is about external contact as much as it is about internal structure. Any procurement diversity program that is true to its name will understand that diverse suppliers are integral to the process.
5. Tracking progress and measuring results
To gauge the effectiveness of DE&I efforts in procurement, it is essential to track progress and measure results. Developing metrics specific to DE&I, conducting surveys among procurement employees and suppliers, and analysing procurement data are effective ways to assess the impact of DE&I initiatives. These insights allow organisations to identify successful strategies and make informed adjustments where necessary. Here you are setting up a feedback loop. Many procurement initiatives pride themselves on being cutting-edge because they ‘put the customer at the centre ‘. This is incomplete. It is people, that need to be put at the centre. Including your own employees. The customer comes next.
6. Celebrating success and recognition
Recognising and celebrating achievements in DE&I procurement efforts play a pivotal role in maintaining motivation and engagement among procurement employees. Hosting events, presenting awards, publishing articles highlighting DE&I accomplishments, and sharing successes with other organisations can contribute to a positive and inclusive work environment while inspiring others to follow suit.
7. Embracing patience and persistence
Embracing the understanding that DE&I is an ongoing journey rather than a final destination is crucial. Building a culture of inclusion and fostering a diverse supply chain takes time and persistence. Organisations must exhibit patience and a steadfast commitment to their DE&I goals, knowing that progress may occur gradually but steadily.
8. Active community engagement
Active involvement within the community is a powerful way to support DE&I in procurement. Volunteering with local organisations that champion diversity and inclusion, as well as donating to causes aligned with DE&I principles, enables organisations to raise awareness and contribute to broader societal efforts. Engaging with the community fosters collaboration and extends the reach and impact of DE&I initiatives.
9. Leading by example
Leadership is instrumental in promoting DE&I within procurement. By leading by example, demonstrating allyship to individuals from all backgrounds, and ensuring an inclusive and respectful environment, procurement leaders set a positive tone for the organisation. This approach encourages others to embrace DE&I principles and inspires a culture of inclusivity throughout the entire procurement process.
10. Leveraging Technology
Technological advancements offer valuable tools to support DE&I in procurement. Organisations can utilise technologies to identify diverse suppliers, streamline progress tracking, and facilitate communication with suppliers. Embracing technology enables more efficient and effective DE&I efforts within the procurement process.
DE&I as an an ongoing process
By implementing these comprehensive strategies and tips, organisations can actively promote DE&I within their procurement processes, leading to a more equitable, diverse and inclusive procurement workplace.
However, these strategies and tips are just the beginning of any initiative for successful implementation.
In order to increase their chances of success, organisations should continuously evaluate and refine their DE&I initiatives to adapt to changing circumstances and emerging best practices.
The goal is representation, and the implication is that broader representation will evince untapped ideas, approaches and skillsets, generating both corporate and social advantage.