October 6, 2022
Head of Global Procurement Customer Excellence, Genentech, Inc.
Former Vice President, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
In recent years, businesses of all sizes have made public commitments to diversifying their workforce and creating a sense of inclusion and belonging for people of all backgrounds and demographics. Some companies, such as Genentech, take this commitment one step further by intentionally seeking out and supporting vendors and suppliers that are owned by diverse entrepreneurs.
During the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s third annual National Summit on Equality of Opportunity, this topic was explored in depth. Latricia Boone of the U.S. Chamber spoke with Victoria Yeager, Head of Global Procurement Customer Excellence at Genentech, about how businesses can unlock greater opportunities by investing in relationships with diversely-owned suppliers.
A Commitment to Supplier Diversity Helps Companies Transform Society
Genentech has made a commitment to supplier diversity in its procurement processes for numerous reasons, said Yeager, but among the most important is that it enables the company to transform society. She noted that Genentech spends about $4.6 billion a year on procurement — a significant amount of “economic muscle” which can ultimately influence business decisions that “foster … more diversity and inclusion and equality throughout society.”
“I like to think of it a bit as a ripple,” Yeager said. “If we can support … one diverse supplier, they are going to be reinvesting in their community. That brings tax dollars [and] … jobs in. So one business decision that we can make can have … a positive impact that stretches way beyond just our business.”
Transparency and Shared Values Are Key to Successful Diverse Supplier Relationships
For companies that want to invest in more diverse suppliers, Yeager advised seeking transparency in those relationships.
“[Make] sure that you have transparency into who those suppliers are so that when the business is making decisions, they can ideally award the business to diversely-owned suppliers,” she said.
Even if your suppliers do not have diverse ownership, you can look at their internal initiatives and find out what they’re doing to support diversity in their operations.
“What is their commitment to fostering diversity?” Yeager continued. “We've … [supported] some of our tier-one suppliers in developing their own supplier diversity programs so that they, in turn, can be spending their money and making their business decisions ideally with diversely-owned suppliers.”
Businesses Should Hold Each Other Accountable for Supporting Supplier Diversity
Because of the broad and positive economic impact investments in diverse suppliers can have, Yeager emphasized the importance of holding other businesses accountable for supporting diversity. She pointed to Genentech’s request for proposal (RFP) process, which involves asking prospective suppliers about their commitment to diversity and inclusion.
“We include in the RFP a series of seven D&I-related questions, [including] … at what level do you have commitments to diversity and inclusion in your company? What do some of your metrics look like with respect to women in the workforce [and] people of color in the workforce? Do you have a supplier diversity program?” Yeager said.
She added that this series of questions has even prompted some suppliers to start a diversity supplier program under Genentech’s guidance.
“Supplier diversity … is supporting our diversely-owned businesses wherever we can, but it's [also] holding all businesses, including those that are not diversely-owned, accountable to step up and play [a] role ... in fostering … more diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout our society,” said Yeager. “It makes the world a better place.”
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