You may have heard the term “supplier diversity” and the benefits it can bring to small businesses and corporations. If you’re interested in growing your business, especially as a small business owner, here is what you should know:
What is supplier diversity?
Supplier diversity refers to the use of minority-owned businesses as suppliers, and a supplier diversity program is a proactive business program that encourages such use within an organization’s supply chain. Supplier diversity most often refers to the partnership between large-scale businesses and businesses owned by underrepresented racial minority-, women-, veteran-, disability- and LGBTQ+-owned businesses.
How does this partnership benefit the supplier?
As a small business owner, teaming up with a larger-scale business guarantees a dependable client and gives you access to the experiences and insights of a large company. A supplier diversity partnership can provide networking and mentorship opportunities, access to a broader clientele, and even increases your chances to bid on and receive larger business contracts. In short, suppliers can increase their knowledge, outreach and funds while in a supplier diversity partnership.
How does this partnership benefit the supplied?
Companies that put diversity and inclusion at the forefront of their plans have proven to be more successful than those that don’t. Supporting a diverse workplace increases morale and allows for a wider flow of ideas and access to a more extensive and diverse client base. In turn, these factors will improve a company’s revenue.
Inviting a supplier team to your business will support your company’s diversity initiatives, widen your business lens, and increase opportunities for new products and further audience reach. This will, in turn, bring in more revenue for the supplied business. Utilizing small companies can also foster new jobs and higher tax revenue.
How can I become a diverse supplier?
The best way to enter a supplier diversity partnership as a supplier is through a certification agency. Once certified as a minority business owner and/or a veteran business owner, you will gain access to partnership opportunities for your business. Certifications can also help grow your business by providing scholarship and funding opportunities, media coverage, mentorship and networking opportunities, educational resources and more.
Do I need to become certified to be a diverse supplier?
Not necessarily, however, most companies require or even prefer to work with small businesses that have been officially certified through a third-party agency such as the National Minority Supplier Diversity Council (NMSDC), Disability:IN or in the case of veterans, through the Vets First Verification Program. This certification provides potential partners that have been vetted and deemed legitimate and reliable by a trusted professional certifying agency.
How do I become certified?
Every organization will have different qualifications for certification, but many will have some of the same requirements. For example, the Vets First Verification Program requires the following:
- At least a 51% ownership and management of a business by a veteran
- Registration as a small business with SAM.gov
- Proof of service without a dishonorable discharge
- Your business license or permit
- Tax forms and return documents
- Resume of business owners
- A history of your business and business plan
Supplier diversity partnerships not only encourage diversity in the business world but support small businesses, boost the economy and extend business opportunities for everyone involved. Whether you’re a big corporation or a small business, a supplier diversity partnership may be the perfect solution to helping your business thrive.
Sources: The VA, SBA, Wikipedia, Merritt Business Solutions