Importance of Hiring More Diverse Suppliers Grows: ANA Report | About the ANA | ANA

Importance of Hiring More Diverse Suppliers Grows: ANA Report

Societal Events of Past Year Show Significant Impact

NEW YORK (May 26, 2021) A substantial majority (69 percent) of ANA members have strategic plans in place to hire suppliers with diverse backgrounds for marketing and advertising services, according to a new ANA study.

The new study, “The Growth of Supplier Diversity,” also revealed that 89 percent of respondents said the importance of supplier diversity for marketing/advertising has increased over the past year, a figure that includes 58 percent who said the increase was significant.

The key reasons for the increases were twofold: the racial events of the past year, and the growing importance supplier diversity plays in a company’s overall diversity and inclusion strategy, the survey indicated.

“The devastating events of the past year have had a profound effect on all businesses, and the marketing industry has been no exception,” noted ANA CEO Bob Liodice.  “But this report shows that at least one positive development has emerged—a growing number of marketers are realizing the importance and the value of diversifying their supplier base.”

In the study, a supplier diversity program was described as “a proactive business program which encourages the use of women-owned, ethnic/minority-owned, veteran-owned, LGBTQ-owned, disability-owned, and small businesses as suppliers.”

The report showed that companies’ supplier diversity programs for marketing/advertising target a wide range of business ownership with at least 75 percent of the respondents choosing businesses owned by Blacks, Hispanics, LGBTQ+ people, Asians, veterans, and women.

Companies spend the most on women-owned businesses, followed by Hispanic-owned, small businesses, and Black-owned.  Respondents also said they expect to spend more in the next year with different types of diverse-owned  businesses, but at the top of the list (all noted by more than 50 percent of respondents), were Black-, Women-, and Hispanic-owned companies.


Respondents indicated a diversity supplier strategy benefitted a company because it proactively supports and addresses inequity barriers while also delivering community empowerment and a positive economic impact. It also provides more authentic connections because diverse suppliers reflect the consumer base.


  • The survey showed that the leading challenge in supplier diversity for marketing/advertising is finding diverse suppliers. The ANA and its diversity initiative, the Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing (AIMM), have curated two resource lists:
    • Certified Diverse Suppliers
    • Suppliers Serving Predominately Multicultural and Diverse Audiences for Marketing and Advertising, Non-Minority Owned and/or Non-Minority Certified. These resources are updated regularly, and details can be found at
  • Some diverse-owned businesses are certified by organizations including the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC); some are not. For some marketers, that certification may be a requirement for doing business. To maximize business opportunities, suppliers should be certified.
    • For many companies, media is their most significant marketing/advertising investment. Yet finding diverse media suppliers has been a particular challenge, as the pool of diverse owned (and/or certified) media companies remains small. Marketers are encouraged to expand their criteria when sourcing suppliers to include certified diverse suppliers, suppliers that are diverse-owned but not certified, suppliers that are diverse-operated but not diverse-owned, and/or those suppliers that target diverse segments but are not diverse-owned or operated.
  • There is clearly the need for the further development of diverse-owned media. Industry participants — including trade associations, marketers, and agencies — should use their resources to promote such development.
  • Marketers need to be open to doing business differently when working with some diverse suppliers. For example, they may need to add new people to their teams, invest more time in supplier relationships, relax payment terms, and look beyond conventional metrics. For the latter, be open to conversations with diverse suppliers on ways to evaluate a partnership. Marketers are encouraged to think beyond scale (and reach) for their supplier diversity programs and instead consider the importance of audience engagement and relevance.


In total, 112 client-side marketers participated in this online survey, which was conducted in March 2021. To supplement the quantitative results, 10 in-depth qualitative interviews were conducted.

The full report is available here.



The mission of the ANA (Association of National Advertisers) is to drive growth for marketing professionals, brands and businesses, the industry, and humanity. The ANA serves the marketing needs of 20,000 brands by leveraging the 12-point ANA Growth Agenda, which has been endorsed by the Global CMO Growth Council. The ANA’s membership consists of U.S. and international companies, including client-side marketers, nonprofits, fundraisers, and marketing solutions providers (data science and technology companies, ad agencies, publishers, media companies, suppliers, and vendors). The ANA creates Marketing Growth Champions by serving, educating, and advocating for more than 50,000 industry members that collectively invest more than $400 billion in marketing and advertising annually.

John Wolfe
Director of Communications
Office: 212.455.8011
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