When Anthony “Tony” Santiago joined WellPoint, No. 50 in The 2010 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity, as vice president and chief procurement officer, the company was spending about $95 million in its supplier-diversity program, or 5.3 percent of its annual procurement budget. This year, the healthcare-benefits giant currently is expected to spend $180 million or 10 percent of its procurement budget with companies owned by veterans, LGBT people, women, Blacks, Latinos, Asians and other businesses owned by traditionally underrepresented groups, he says.
That’s a huge leap from five years ago, when WellPoint’s annual supplier-diversity goal for combined spending for direct contractors and subcontractors (Tier I and Tier II) was 2 percent.
“At the time, a lot of people thought 2 percent was high given where we were, but each year we raised the bar,” says Santiago.
Santiago plans to raise that bar even higher in 2011. “More and more of the proposals we get from our national customers and bids for municipal- and state-sponsored businesses have diversity goals in them,” he says. “It’s also a good thing to do because our customer base is very diverse and our supply base should be similarly diverse.”
Santiago attributes WellPoint’s success to a number of factors, including hiring the company’s first nationwide supplier-diversity director, Brenda Burke, a few years ago to focus on supplier diversity, raising awareness throughout the company, expanding the supplier-diversity team and including diversity spend in his sourcing directors’ goals and objectives.
Santiago, the youngest of four, grew up in Niagara Falls, N.Y. His parents came to the United States from Puerto Rico in 1945, but his parents never spoke Spanish at home (“they were concerned about us integrating”) so he never learned how to speak the language. It’s one of his big regrets, he says.
“We all have our bucket lists, and the first one on mine is to learn Spanish,” he says.
Prior to WellPoint, he spent 30 years with Bristol-Myers Squibb in finance and procurement roles.
Santiago received his undergraduate degree in accounting from SUNY at Buffalo and his MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He is an active member of WellPoint’s Latino employee-resource group and is on the national board for the Institute for Supply Management.