Supplier Diversity

July 29, 2020


How are brands ensuring diversity among their suppliers and partners?


Supplier diversity should be simple, in that it should provide consumers with what they want and need while propelling growth and innovation for the company through a lens of inclusivity and diversity. Michael A. Byron, senior director of supplier inclusion at Walmart, summed it up succinctly, stating, "When marrying marketing and supplier diversity, the focus should be the customer and providing solutions."

True growth can't occur if brands and companies don't invest in becoming diverse internally and promoting inclusion externally, which includes who brands partner with for its supply chains. To be truly diverse means supporting diversity at its core and in all aspects of business.

Byron went on to add that inclusivity is about evolution and adapting to change: "It should be enterprise-wide and with any team that spends money. Being close to the customer is important. Eighty percent of spend comes from merchandising, so that's where it should be today. But that could change."

In a recent ANA report surveying 105 ANA member companies, 75 percent of respondents "indicated a supplier diversity strategy for the organization as a whole, while 40 percent of respondents have a supplier diversity strategy specifically for marketing and advertising."

Respondents stated that "alignment with corporate culture and workplace inclusiveness" and "enhancing corporate image/brand" were the top two reasons for prioritizing an inclusive approach.

Below are helpful best practices, surveys, and case studies.

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State of Diversity in the Industry

ANA Research

  • The Power of Supplier Diversity. ANA, May 19, 2020.
    The purpose of this ANA research was to gain an understanding of the incidence of supplier diversity programs as well as benefits, challenges, spend, goals, measurement, influence, and more. The report notes: "Supplier diversity in marketing/advertising is less mature than supplier diversity in the organization overall. Supplier diversity in marketing/advertising is younger, has less spend, and has fewer opportunities."

Agency Diversity Data and "600 Rising"

Supplier Diversity Resources for Marketers

Brand Examples and Best Practices

  • Diversifying the Supplier Ecosystem. ANA, May 1, 2019.
    In this panel discussion, ANA members from Quicken Loans, Walmart, InterContinental Hotels Group, and Kelly Services discuss supplier diversity best practices, its value and challenges, and how to get executive buy-in.

  • Free the Work Documents Lack of Black Directors In Ad Industry. Shoot, June 17, 2020.
    Free the Work (discussed above) proposes these 12 steps to bring about meaningful change around tracking progress or measuring the effectiveness of agency D&I efforts:
    • Make a specific, measurable, and public commitment to improve black representation at all levels of agency staffing, especially senior and leadership positions.
    • Track and publicly report workforce diversity data on an annual basis to create accountability for the agency and the industry.
    • Audit agency policies and culture to ensure the work environment is more equitable and inclusive to a diversity of backgrounds and perspectives.
    • Provide extensive bias training to HR employees and all levels of management.
    • Extend agency outreach to a more diverse representation of colleges, universities, and art schools.
    • Expand residencies and internship programs to candidates with transferable skills who may not have taken a traditional educational path toward advertising.
    • Create, fund, and support employee resource groups (ERGs) for black employees.
    • Invest in management and leadership training, as well as mentorship, sponsorship, and other career development programs for black employees.
    • Require all leadership to be active participants in company diversity and inclusion initiatives and tie success in those initiatives to bonus compensation.
    • Create a diversity and inclusion committee made up of black and NBPOC employees to help shape diversity and inclusion policy and monitor its progress.
    • Establish a diversity review panel to stem the spread of stereotypes in creative work and ensure offensive or culturally insensitive work is never published.
    • Introduce a wage equity plan to ensure that black women, black men, and all people of color are being compensated fairly.
  • Eli Lilly: Developing a Strong Supplier Diversity Strategy. ANA, March 21, 2017.
    Click here to view the video (36 minutes) of this session.
    The processes described in the recap offer some high-level insights into achieving diversity in sourcing suppliers. Tatum Gipe, director of procurement optimization and supplier diversity at Eli Lilly, shared the company's approach to nurturing small and diverse businesses and optimizing the relationships with those businesses to have a positive effect on suppliers, customers, and management.

  • Partnering on Diversity Drives Greatness. ANA, 2017
    In early 2017, USAA consolidated its agency partnerships under one banner with the explicit goal of building a diverse agency team. To fulfill its part of the commitment, Publicis pledged to hire 30 percent of new employees for the account from diverse communities. USAA created an infrastructure to support diversity as seen in slide 15 of the accompanying deck.

Ad Production Diversity Initiatives

    • The Commercial Directors Diversity Program. ANA, November 30, 2018.
      The Commercial Directors Diversity Program (CDDP) reflects the commitment of both the AICP and DGA to effect change and increase the representation of minority and women directors specializing in commercials and marketing communications through a targeted program of outreach, mentorship, and exposure. This brief slide deck outlines the program's history, mission, training options, and more. For current information on the program, visit the CDDP site.

    • Made in NY: Diversifying the Production Talent Pool. ANA, November 19, 2019.

      This brief event recap describes the Made in NY program, which is committed to creating inroads for women, people of color, and low-income earners. Through hands-on training and career support, an increasingly diverse pool of talent is taking part in the production process.

General Best Practices for Achieving Supplier Diversity  

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"Supplier Diversity." ANA, July 2020.