Supplier Diversity Gets Nasty: Why You Should Ignore the Pettiness (Part 2)

In the first post in this series, I examined how CVM Solutions has been hitting below the supplier diversity belt by insinuating that AECsoft and SciQuest are getting out of the supplier diversity business. Moreover, they, accurately, I might add, suggest that AECsoft is no longer a qualified -- as in "check-the-diversity-box" -- minority / women owned provider itself, owing to SciQuest's public company status. I'll leave it to the facts (and AECSoft's response in Part 1 of my commentary, linked above) to address the first part of CVM's intimation. And I'll tackle the second claim today -- that AECSoft is no longer a "diversity supplier" and why this doesn't matter for any reason whatsoever.

Even though there is no truth to CVM's first claim that AECSoft is getting out of the supplier diversity business, it is true that they are no longer themselves be a "diversity" supplier now the acquisition is complete. That's because the company is now owned in large part by public shareholders (arguably the most diverse group of constituents possible, but don't let me sidetrack the argument). What matters here is that diversity accreditation from your diversity software provider is absolutely silly when it comes to making a decision about which vendor to go with. Seriously, we're talking about spending somewhere between $10K-50K to validate information on what's likely billions of dollars in total spending.

What should matter is that you're getting the diversity analysis/validation right on the data set, not that this tiny overall sum as a percentage of total spending should go to a diversity provider. Seriously, if that's your strategy for diversity spending, you have a whole lot of issues that we can't begin to tackle in this one post on the subject. Today, the fact remains that supplier diversity content is largely a commodity. And a range of providers, from AECsoft to CVM Solutions to Equifax to D&B can all provide it. Both CVM Solutions and AECsoft (SciQuest) are excellent choices, I might add, even if the former's marketing tactics and logic leave something to be desired.

For those who want to increase diversity spending, I believe that it's time to ignore the pettiness of vendors in the supplier diversity space, and get beyond the marketing claims of certain providers to focus on what really counts: program management and execution. This involves putting in place the right team and processes to manage supplier diversity on a multi-tier level and should include such elements as supplier development and supplier performance management. In the end, the actual software and content you decide to use for diversity enrichment should be an outgrowth of your supplier management and spend analysis (broader data enrichment) strategies, not a decision that simply "feels good" because one vendor hawking its wares claims to be more diverse than the next.

- Jason Busch

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