3 min read

Procurement Trends in 2021 – Diversity and Inclusion

As we enter a new year, it is customary to reflect on the previous 365-day stretch and survey what we have experienced and learned. Hopefully, we can measure how we have grown. We say many procurement trends in 2021—a global pandemic, upheaval touching all realms from economics to politics, and beyond.

While we faced many challenges, we also saw many trends emerge. Specifically, supplier diversity seemed to be a common theme, with everyone from the layperson to the CEO pushing the agenda of increasing Diversity and Inclusion—and for good reason.


Why Was Supplier Diversity a Procurement Trend in 2021?

So, why was supplier diversity such a big deal last year? Supplier diversity has been on the center stage due to the increasing inequality we saw during the global upheaval of 2021. It was almost as if the worldwide challenges spotlighted the need for diversity not only in our workplaces but also throughout our entire supply chain.

The bottom line is this: Corporations are now facing the need to somehow navigate their way through increasingly complex challenges—challenges so intricate and nuanced that it will require super teams to solve them. And what will these super teams look like? You guessed it: They will need to be diverse, inclusive, and representative of our entire world.

To build teams like this, adopting—or embracing—supplier diversity is a direct and natural extension, where we have to look at our supply chain and ensure that whoever is working for our suppliers (all the way down the line) is also committed to the same level of diversity and inclusivity that will lead to equity, and ultimately, excellence.

As we saw that inequalities became glaring in 2021, the demands for diversity and inclusivity that met us were equally challenging. And if we have learned anything in the procurement world, it is that trends are a measuring stick for what is happening in the world. Either we pay attention to them and address and evolve with them, or we risk falling behind—as others certainly will be keeping in step if we are not.


What Are the Benefits of Supplier Diversity? 

The good news is that supplier diversity is goodfor business. We can attest to this fact firsthand, as, throughout my career in the procurement world, I have seen the value that having a more diverse and inclusive corporate supply chain brings. Among the numerous benefits of a more diverse and inclusive supply chain include:

  • The ability to be more competitive in the market
  • The ability to tap into a wider experience base for increased innovation
  • The opening of doors into brand new markets otherwise inaccessible
  • The positive impact you can have on local, small businesses on a socioeconomic level

And did I mention lower cost? By casting a wider net and building a more diverse supplier portfolio, you are often able to increase spend with various suppliers, increasing your cost savings and positively impacting your supply chain value overall. Any way you look at it, supporting and embracing supplier diversity benefits all involved.


How to Make SD&I a Mainstream Corporate Strategy

Some of you may be recognizing the need to embrace this trend of supplier diversity and inclusion (SD&I), but you don’t know exactly where to start. On your quest to broaden diversity, you will need to enact initiatives that will be doable—and long-lasting. This will require the right mindset and a clear plan of action.

The first simple way you can accelerate supply chain diversity in your company is to pinpoint where your procurement budget is being spent. This will allow you to better understand which suppliers are essential to help you build a more diverse and inclusive supply operation.

Once you have done this, a next step would be to find diverse suppliers aligned with key spend categories. Finally, plans fail for lack of preparation and direction, so establishing inclusive procurement policies is an absolute no-brainer here.

Don’t be afraid to get creative as you contemplate your corporate procurement strategy, don’t be afraid to get creative! And remember, we at Procurement Foundry are here to help. One resource that may be of particular interest and benefit is the FORGE Supplier Diversity conference—a thought leadership event where experts from around the globe come together to share their vast knowledge and experience. Last year, the conference was a success, and this year’s event, held on February 24, 2022, will be equally informative. You can find more information about it, and even sign up to attend, here.

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