As members of both ISM (The Institute For Supply Management) and WBENC (The Women’s Business Enterprise Council), we have the unique privilege of experiencing supplier diversity from both sides. We are a diverse supplier; yet in one segment of our business we help lead other diverse suppliers to ISO 9001, TL 9000 and ISO 14001 certifications, as part of our work with the supplier diversity departments of several Fortune 50 companies.
We navigate many trends pertaining to supplier diversity. Certainly the two that are worth noting are the globalization of supply chains and corporate sustainability (which include environmental standards).
When diverse suppliers enter corporate supply chains, they need to consider that they are in fact entering a global supply chain. Minority and woman-owned businesses can provide competitive advantages and innovation in global supply chains–and supply management professionals have been working in global value chains for many years. However, did you know the same is true regarding the supplier diversity departments of many of the nation’s leading corporations? For example, Walmart recently announced that it would actively promote procurement from woman-owned businesses in their global supply chain.
Many SD departments are working to make sure their supplier diversity policies and practices are being implemented globally. The same holds true for the quality standards that they require of their diverse suppliers. Environmental requirements are carefully woven into the fabric of best practices due to the potential for supply chain risk and ISO 9001 (and ISO 14001) are global quality standards. Global supply chains need global quality standards.
A great resource that illustrates global diversity initiatives in play is WEConnect, the international extension of WBENC. WEConnect International is a corporate led non-profit that helps empower women business owners succeed in global markets. Their membership list reads like a “Who’s Who” of the nation’s leading brands and even as an NGO, they are committed to quality standards.
In 2011, BIZPHYX led WEConnect to ISO 9001 certification and in 2012 we led WBC Southwest (the Southwest council of WBENC) to ISO 9001 certification. Both groups appreciated the need to become quality organizations that embrace internationally recognized, global quality standards like ISO 9001 (and ISO 14001). They set the example for their member base (WBEs), many of which are becoming “global” diverse suppliers by working for and with Fortune 500 companies.
Other resources that you can check out regarding global supplier diversity initiatives (including opportunities to bid on direct or subcontracting opportunities that are offshore) are the NMSDC’s Global Link and the International Trade Centre. We encourage you to listen to a recent podcast from Joan Kerr, Director of Supplier Diversity and Development with PG&E. Joan is the Supplier Diversity Chair for ISM and she discusses many of these resources in her podcast.
Another great tool for diverse suppliers wanting to do business with the Federal Government (which can have a global implications) is Gov Win. We recently tweeted their blog post and they re-tweeted our findings. This post has great information on how to become compliant in federal procurement which includes CCR, FAR and OCRA.
With regard to corporate sustainability, we still see ISO 14001 as a great way for corporations and diverse suppliers to address their environmental and sustainability goals. In a few weeks we have a new article coming out that will demonstrate how some of the big brands are leveraging ISO 14001 in their supply chains.
Diverse suppliers are really no different. Once a corporate client integrates a diverse supplier into their global supply chain, they integrate both opportunities and risks. Corporations need to make sure that their suppliers meet certain environmental goals and standards. Their standards could be based on legal, regulatory and conformance requirements or measurable goals and objectives set forth by the client, such as eco-footprint or zero waste.
There are a few who don’t share the passion for ISO 14001 or certifications in general, such as the premise put forth in this article from The Guardian, a UK publication. However, in the absence of some type of supplier audit or the regular audits associated with maintaining an ISO certification, there is simply no way to substantiate that statements have translated into actions. That’s why we’re seeing more small/diverse suppliers meet the environmental and sustainability requests of their corporate customers, by certifying to standards like ISO 14001.
We don’t see this trend reversing since procurement professionals embrace global quality standards. In the 2011 ISM Supplier Diversity Study it was revealed that procurement executives want to do business with diverse suppliers, but 70% report having difficulties finding “quality suppliers” in their category of spend. See the problem–and one key solution? Quality certification like ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 answer this challenge. The ISM study is on the BIZPHYX Knowledge Base.
Next week, tune in for a podcast profiling the diverse supplier–ARTÉMIA Communications based in San Francisco. This marketing communications firm chose to certify to ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and TL 9000 (the telecommunications quality standard) at the same time. They are leading a best practices trend.
For more information related to ISO certifications contact email@example.com.