Contingent Workforce Procurement, Supplier Diversity Programs, and Inclusiveness at VMSA Live

supplier diversity

VMSA Live, which will be held Feb. 8–11 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, brings together and sets in motion all the parts of the contingent workforce supply chain in an intimate setting designed for interaction and practical learning. “Inclusiveness” is one of key principles that defines this conference. (For “exclusivity,” you need to go elsewhere.) Inclusiveness means “a big tent,” access, communication. It means providing a mechanism for smaller, younger solution providers to come and make themselves known alongside the big industry names. It means contingent workforce management professionals being welcomed by staffing suppliers to interact and learn from one another — not just to sell.

Supplier Diversity Programs

Inclusion can occur in a variety of settings, but one important manifestation is supplier diversity programs.

Supplier diversity programs have been embraced by a large percentage of larger businesses. Contingent workforce management programs support inclusiveness because it comes becomes company policy and it is the right thing to do, but in doing so, they achieve new procurement value by augmenting the supplier base with excellent suppliers and by opening sourcing channels to a broader range of talent populations.

A recent Dun & Bradstreet article, “The Growing Business Imperative for Supplier Diversity,” asked executives of major companies about the importance of supplier diversity programs and got responses like these:

“Working with diverse suppliers not only helps our company meet important business needs, it promotes job creation and stimulates the local economy; its good business for everyone involved.”

“Diversity invites different perspectives, often niche expertise tailored to problem resolutions.”

According to the Hackett Group, “World-class procurement organizations commit close to 30% more, or more than 13% of total spend, to diverse suppliers, versus 10% percent for typical companies.”

But there are other measures of value, as well.

Investors are increasingly holding their portfolio companies accountable for the effectiveness of their supplier diversity programs. Wharton Magazine recently cited this example:

In April 2014, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, on behalf of the New York City Pension Funds, wrote the funds’ largest holdings, including Apple, Pfizer, Oracle and American Express, asking them to disclose performance figures on their supplier diversity programs. The announcement (“NYC Comptroller Calls For Greater Supplier Diversity at 20 of NYC Pension Funds’ Largest Holdings“ ) further stated that 90 percent of Standard & Poor’s 100 companies have supplier diversity programs, but less than half of that group discloses data on program performance. The letter requested that companies disclose annually qualitative and quantitative performance data that sheds light on program effectiveness.

The Dun & Bradstreet article, mentioned above, also clearly states one of the many compelling reasons to support supplier diversity programs

Competition has changed: Today, rivals fight for their share of rapidly evolving global markets rather than a share of stable domestic markets. As ethnic minorities and women increase as a proportion of the population and participate in greater numbers in the entrepreneurial economy, minority and women-owned businesses will form a greater part of the value chain.

Clearly, supplier diversity programs are becoming a non-negotiable part of the procurement agenda, including contingent workforce management.

Supplier Diversity Programs and VMSA Live

A focus on diversity and supplier diversity programs is important to VMSA Live. Not only will many supplier diversitys be present, there will also be several supplier diversity program leaders from major companies in attendance. In addition, there will be a major session at the conference, as described here:


To add further weight, we had a chance recently to talk with L Jay Burks, Ph.D., senior manager of supplier diversity at Comcast, and hear what Dr. Burks had to say:

Besides achieving diversity goals, what do you see as unique benefits that your diversity staffing suppliers bring to the table?

Burks: It’s no secret that diversity in thought results in new innovative methods to achieve goals. We also understand the economic impact of working with diverse business communities. Over the last 18 months the business partnerships that have been made via the implementation of the MSP may not have existed. There has been value created for diverse-owned and non-diverse-owned businesses.

What do you believe the value/usefulness of VMSA Live will be, from your position of being a supplier diversity professional?

Burks: supplier diversity professionals are the oftentimes the front lines of communication to the vendor community. I’d like to be able to communicate to the vendors the strategies for success that I have learned from the conference. I also think this is a great platform to communicate the importance of ensuring equitable access to supplier chain opportunities.

I am definitely looking forward to meeting Dr. Burks at the conference as well as a number of his peers at other major business and, moreover, the supplier diversitys in attendance.

At VMSA Live, inclusiveness means how the community comes together. And it also means ensuring there is a focus on an increasingly important part of the contingent workforce ecosystem.

To learn more about VMSA Live in Fort Lauderdale and how to register, go to the event website.

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