The Growth of Supplier Diversity

A supplier diversity program is 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 Growth of Supplier Diversity" provides a deep dive into supplier diversity in marketing/advertising, covering areas including benefits, challenges, spend, goals, and measurement. The report is based on both quantitative (March 2021 survey with 112 respondents) and qualitative research. Highlights:

  • Incidence: Sixty-nine percent of respondents have a supplier diversity strategy for marketing/advertising.
  • Importance: The importance of supplier diversity for marketing/advertising has increased over the past year for 89 percent of respondents; that includes 58 percent for whom the importance increased significantly.
  • Why Importance Increased: Reasons for the increase in importance center on (a) the racial events of the past year and (b) supplier diversity being an important part of a company's overall D&I strategy and the right thing to do.
  • Business Ownership: Companies target a wide range of business ownership with their supplier diversity programs for marketing/advertising, with at least 75 percent of the respondents targeting businesses owned by Black, Hispanic, LGBTQ, and Asian people and veterans and women. Companies spend the most on Women-owned businesses. Respondents expect to spend more in the next year with many different types of diverse-owned businesses; at the top of the list are Black-owned businesses.
  • Categories: Respondents expect to spend more in the next year with diverse-owned businesses in many different categories. All noted by more than 50 percent of respondents are production and agencies, followed by media companies. For many companies, media is their most significant marketing/advertising expense. Yet finding diverse media suppliers has been a particular challenge.
  • Benefits: The top benefits are proactively support and address inequity barriers and community empowerment and positive economic impact (for the community).
  • Challenges: The top challenge for supplier diversity in marketing/advertising is finding diverse suppliers, followed by the challenge of getting visibility to opportunities to recommend diverse suppliers.

The report ends with a "Conclusions/Call to Action" section which has twelve points, including:

  • 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.

An important mandate for the ANA CMO Growth Council is to "Eliminate systemic investment inequalities in the media and creative supply chain." This report helps further advance that mandate.

"The Growth of Supplier Diversity" is a follow-up to the ANA report "The Power of Supplier Diversity," which was released in May 2020.

Furthermore, the ANA and its diversity initiative, the Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing (AIMM), have curated two resource lists that identify diverse suppliers for marketing/advertising. Details are at

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"The Growth of Supplier Diversity." ANA, May 2021.