Opportunities in Supplier Diversity

Opportunities in Supplier Diversity

On its Website, Nestlé acknowledges that by 2050, the majority of the U.S. population will consist of people from ethnic groups that are now considered minorities, and that certified minority-owned businesses are experiencing similar growth. Internally, what types of programs are in place to recruit, attract, and support minority suppliers?

Something that we do internally is education through action. We have several different supplier diversity teams. We have a representative for all our operating companies and we talk about how to help push the message internally. I’ve done online meetings with all our buyers. We teach them how to use our portal so that they can look for diverse suppliers. We believe that supplier diversity initiatives will be most effective when all buyers understand the program and become engaged. We’re a very tightly run procurement organization. In our environment right now, our buyers are tasked with looking for savings as well as maximizing all the dollars spent. Buyers have lots of responsibility in their area, and with that responsibility comes the work.

I think the biggest problem that the diverse supplier has is getting the buyer’s attention because there are so many competing demands. This time last year our buyers were confronted with increases in the cost of fuel and milk. Two years ago it was corn being deviated from the food chain to the fuel chain–which again affected the cost. But now the ultimate challenge is for our buyers to make sure that they are buying products that allow our foods to be safe, to be well positioned, and to be cost effective in production. That’s why I circle back to innovation. Diverse suppliers must look for ways to help bring value. It will be up to them to look at ways to make a difference.

For more information on supplier diversity at Nestlé, visit www.nestleusa.com/pubcommunity/diversity.aspx.

This story originally appeared in the August 2009 issue of Black Enterprise magazine.