Thursday, December 08, 2005

Defining Supplier Diversity in Europe

As the "melting pot" of the world, it's relatively simple to define supplier diversity in the United States. For example, IBM includes Women, African-Americans, Latin-Americans, Asian-Americans, GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender), Native Americans, Disabled-Americans and War Veterans. Outside of the United States its not as easy. One of the main challenges is that each country defines diversity differently and its illegal in some governments such as France to classify citizens by ethnic background.

One organization that trying to make it easier to understand is the Migration Policy Group's European Supplier Diversity Business Forum, which currently has 13 members including IBM, HP, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Cisco Systems. The organization is new, but its mission is essentially to raise awareness and the build a database of diverse suppliers.

Another organization helping to spread the word is the Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship, also unfortunately known as CREME. CREME is getting ready to publish a study on the opportunities that exist for corporations that embrace supplier diversity programs. And I know I have said this in previous blogs, but the opportunities are not good karma or tax incentives. Procuring goods and services from a supply base that is as diverse as your client base it good business sense. Plus, working with diverse businesses leads to diverse and different innovative ideas and innovation is profit. Whether your procurement spend is $100 or $1B, supplier diversity should be a supply chain imperative.

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