Q. Why are companies making an effort to track suppliers owned by LGBT people or people with disabilities? Is supplier diversity really innovative or is it just politically correct?
A. Over the last two years, DiversityInc has seen more than a 10 percent increase in the percentage of spend with LGBT-owned businesses, and more than a 25 percent increase of spend with businesses owned by people with disabilities.
Innovative companies know that in order to be competitive and relevant in the marketplace, they must understand and solicit emerging-market customers such as LGBT people and people with disabilities, as well as allies to these groups. In order to do this, they are seeking more partnerships with these suppliers.
Companies want their customer bases to equal their supply bases. We know that the demographics of our country and global reach are changing and a corporation's supply base is increasingly diverse. The LGBT population has been estimated by many sources to be about 10 percent of the total population, but its reach, through relatives and friends who are supportive, is considerably greater. In the United States, about 12 percent of the population has an ADA-defined disability. As the population ages, this figure is expected to increase.
Supplier diversity is not a social issue but an emerging-market demographic that will add to the corporate bottom line. Businesses seeking to enhance their supplier-diversity programs through partnerships with LGBT-owned businesses or businesses owned by people with disabilities should consider becoming members of either the US Business Leadership Network (USBLN) or the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC). Both groups certify small businesses and allow larger corporations to interact with these suppliers.
--Amber Aboshihata, Director of Data Analysis, and Adriene Bruce, Vice President of Consulting