What Corporate America Wants and Needs from Diverse Suppliers Like You

The trendline for spending by Fortune 500 companies with smaller, diverse suppliers is definitely heading up. The Billion Dollar Roundtable, created in 2001 to recognize corporations with at least $1 billion in spending with women- and minority-owned suppliers, has increased its total diverse supplier spend by more than 150% in the last decade.

Numerous companies have publicly shared their desire to significantly increase products and services procured from diverse businesses and are working to develop opportunities for underrepresented founders. More than 95% of U.S. Corporations have a supplier diversity goal and 80% mention supplier diversity in their annual reports.

Now is the time to learn how to tap into this growing opportunity by attending the Global Supplier Diversity Conference (GSDC) September 23, 2021 streaming live to your location. The entire program is offered at no charge and will provide critical information from amazing speakers such as senior executives from Microsoft, GSK Consumer Healthcare, the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Atlanta Hawks, successful entrepreneurs and many others.

Hear directly from corporate leaders

Temitayo Younge, PorschePorsche Cars North America’s Procurement Process Improvement Specialist, Temitayo Younge, is among the outstanding speakers who will provide specific insights on how to interact effectively with large companies.

“We find smaller suppliers especially strong in bringing new ideas to the table and helping us continue to innovate and find exciting new ways to bring people into the brand,” Younge shares. “They tend to be quite agile and closer to the pulse of the customer and can leverage that knowledge to drive critical insights.”

As an importer, Porsche Cars North America does not build cars, but drives significant indirect spends with small suppliers in areas such as event marketing, construction, HR, IT, public relations, legal services, etc. They consistently look for partners in those areas.

Getting your foot in the door

“Porsche leadership sees the benefits of supplier diversity and is encouraging buyers and category managers to seek these companies out so it’s important to position your business to be found,” Younge advises. That includes having a strong website and online presence and building positive exposure in your area of expertise. “Our category managers are invited to diversity events to see what’s new in the market so they need to see you there,” she adds.

Smaller suppliers can also benefit from serving as a sub-contractor to a larger supplier as a way to get a foot in the door. “A lot of our first-tier spend is locked in with agencies and large groups that support multiple markets,” Younge explains. “When you work with those larger companies, you gain a piece of our business indirectly, and may have the opportunity to work directly with our organization in the future.”

For example, Porsche’s Request for Proposals (RFP) for a facility management company included a requirement for a portion of the budget to be allocated to diverse suppliers. The company who won the bid subcontracted security services to a diverse supplier who is now engaged with Porsche via a second-tier contractor relationship.

Avoid common missteps  

With your foot in the door, your next focus is to keep moving forward. Younge has seen smaller suppliers stumble by over-promising and then struggling to ramp up resources in time to meet aggressive deadlines.

“We really need smaller suppliers to be completely transparent about their capabilities as a company,” she urges. “If you say you work in print, for example, be very specific about what kind and what limitations you may have. If you over-promise on the range of services and support you can provide, we will be more reluctant to tap you again.”

Porsche team members work to avoid those pitfalls through the RFP process by requesting references, mock-ups and recent work samples. It is far better to be disqualified at that point, Younge says, than to fake your way through. “We want to mentor diverse suppliers too,” she says. That can include shadowing another provider and grooming small suppliers to expand their offerings. “It’s better to clearly state your focus and capabilities honestly up front rather than perform poorly. That way, we may be able to adjust the scope of the project to fit your capabilities or invite you into the next opportunity.”

GSDC - Global Supplier Diversity ConferenceOne final word of advice: be patient. “We are not ignoring you or avoiding working with you even if sometimes we can’t respond immediately,” Younge says. “Try not to email multiple times and check back too frequently. The buyers and category managers will update you as things progress.” Like many other large organizations, Porsche seeks to build long-term relationships with its diverse suppliers and create repeat business.

The workplace is changing; be ready to capture emerging opportunities by registering for the Global Supplier Diversity Conference (GSCDC) today.