The U.S. is among the most diverse nations in the world, both culturally and economically, and by mid-century minority groups are expected to be in the majority. This definitely is a cultural shift, but it impacts the business world as well, because each community’s workforce and customers are becoming more diverse and demand to work with and buy from more diverse business entities; having an effective supplier diversity plan (SDP) makes it easier to better serve the ever-changing customer base.
Awarding business should not be just about achieving percentage goals defined in a SDP, but about creating meaningful relationships that address the client’s immediate and future needs. Under the most successful SDPs, business is awarded in proportion to the capability level of selected suppliers and expanded over time as those capabilities grow. This, in turn, helps the clients to effectively balance their spend between diverse and non-diverse suppliers and maintain long term SDP objectives. The dynamically changing business environment requires a regular assessment of suppliers’ performance using a flexible tool, like a scorecard, customized to address each client’s objectives.
There are many sources to help staffing clients identify qualified diversity suppliers — and help diversity suppliers differentiate themselves. The National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), with regional offices in major U.S. cities, is an excellent source for finding qualified certified minority owned firms. The regional councils conduct extensive due diligence in the certification process. Further, the NMSDC developed a membership program that identifies minority-owned companies with proven capabilities for national and international scale contracts.
Additionally, a variety of certifications offered by the Small Business Administration and third-party certifiers (private, non-profit and federal/local agencies) can help clients identify businesses that best fit their SDP objectives. Examples include Certified Woman-Owned Business, Service Disabled Veteran-Owned Business and HUBZone Business. The certification requirements are stringent in order to limit the risk of fraud and ensure that only eligible companies receive the intended benefits.
Targeting diversity suppliers that can provide external quality certifications (e.g. ISO), referrals and/or sound financial records may also be considered in order to streamline the supplier selection process by focusing on high quality minded businesses.
The staffing industry is highly competitive and all companies face numerous challenges. Evaluating your strengths and designing a sound customer-centric business strategy is of utmost importance. Benchmarking, customer feedback, tracking and analyzing industry trends help in crafting new and creative offerings that can set you apart from competition. Ability to differentiate and innovate is a key success factor when tailoring solutions to your clients’ specific business needs. And, still the most important thing is to establish ongoing relationships with your clients that extend beyond just winning contracts and include a proactive effort to obtain feedback to make sure you continue meeting or exceeding the stated expectations.