While it will vary somewhat from corporation to corporation, the primary role of those involved in supplier diversity programs is to ensure the inclusion of diverse businesses in the competitive bidding process. Our role is to find the best suppliers and build within our corporations a supplier base that is reflective of our customer and employee base. And while diversity is important, “best” is highlighted for a reason: having the right products and services that will add value to the corporation is what matters most.
Where the supplier diversity program manager sits in the organizational structure will also vary by corporation. You will find many supplier diversity program professionals are members of the Sourcing Department while some are aligned with Human Resources, and others will sit on a team dedicated to all corporate diversity issues.
But no matter the structure or alignment, if you have done your homework and you think you are a fit for a particular corporation, the corporate supplier diversity representative is a contact you should make.
There are a number of avenues you can take to contact a corporate representative. You will usually find they are active in the local diversity councils and if you are an active member too, it is a great place to begin that relationship. Trade shows are also a good way to make that important connection.
Wherever you make that connection, be well-prepared with a pitch that is to the point and emphasizes how you can add value. In your conversation highlight why you are the most qualified to contribute a particular product or service, and in addition to being the best you are also certified as diverse.