My Issues with Corporate Procurement and Supplier Diversity Professionals

I truly appreciate it when a corporate procurement person does take the time with me on the phone to learn about my innovative career mapping program for corporations.

I truly appreciate it when a corporate procurement person does take the time with me on the phone to learn about my innovative career mapping program for corporations.

I decided to designate January, 2016 as my “rant about something in my blog month” and I have a series of three such blogs planned for January. But in addition to complaining, I will suggest a solution or propose a fix, albeit for my third and final installment it will be somewhat tongue-in-cheek.

In my first item, I provide some construction criticism after my first five years as a consultant dealing with supplier diversity teams and corporate procurement people. Most of my experience has been as a certified LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) Business Enterprise though the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. I have indeed have had some excellent interaction and support from several NGLCC corporate partners, but there has also been a good deal of frustration.

Here are my issues:

1) I feel many of the people are just “going through the motions” to gain a good name in the diverse community. Their major metric is to get companies to enroll in their supplier diversity database and declare victory by quoting how many suppliers are enrolled. Frankly, as a very busy entrepreneur, if you expect me to spend 45 minutes putting my information into your database, don’t you feel you could spend 10 minutes with me to understand my business and what I truly have to offer to your company?

2) Many supply the pat answer, “we will call you when there is an RFP for your service or offering.” Really? How many calls have I received in 5 years? Frankly, many small business and entrepreneurs have innovative solutions to corporate issues and new inventions for which there will never be an RFP. An excellent procurement professional will seek to understand what suppliers have to offer and introduce the innovative solutions to the appropriate line management and decision makers. See my previous blog from 2012 on this titled: “Corporate Procurement: Promoters or Road Blockers of Innovation?”

3) Far too often after initial good meetings and the procurement person promises to follow up, 80% of the time, they never do. And they will not even provide the courtesy of a 30 second reply to an email to call to let you know status or let you know if they have done what they promised.

And now some suggestions:

1) Procurement people, seek to understand what the suppliers have to offer and introduce them or set up a short call with the line business area.

2) Procurement people, when you promise to do something for a potential supplier, honor that commitment and at least follow up or return a call.

3) To the NGLCC – Solicit honest assessments from the LGBT-BEs on the effectiveness of the supplier diversity program including on each corporate partner, and honor the ones that the suppliers say are doing the best job supporting them.

Finally, I encourage procurement people to work hard to establish value-add and respect within their corporations so that the line management will view you as the “go to” people to help find the best, most innovative and cost-effective suppliers to address their most pressing business needs.

Landmark US Small Business Administration – National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce Partnership Highlighted in Raleigh, NC Meeting!

Please make sure to review and use the additional links provided below on the organizations highlighted in this blog.

From left to right:  Patrick Rodriguez (meeting speaker), Ben Kittner (local entrepreneur), and blog author Stan Kimer gather before the March 11 RBPN meeting.  More info on people in photo bottom of the blog

From left to right: Patrick Rodriguez (meeting speaker), Ben Kittner (local entrepreneur), and blog author Stan Kimer gather before the March 11 RBPN meeting. More info on people in photo bottom of the blog

As a charter member and current treasurer of the Raleigh Business and Professional Network (RBPN), one of the 38 US affiliate chapters of the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber (NGLCC), I was energized by the exciting news shared at our monthly dinner meeting. Over 40 local LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) and ally business owners, professionals and retirees were on hand to network and hear our guest speaker, Raleigh’s Senior Area Manager of the North Carolina District Office of the US Small Business Administration (SBA) Patrick Rodriguez. He shared the recent announcement of the new SBA – LGBT Business Builder initiative as well as explaining the details of various SBA programs and resources available to small businesses.

The new SBA- NGLCC “LGBT Business Builder” will bring together expertise and resources from the staff at SBA regional and district offices, NGLCC’s 38 affiliate chapters in the US and other resource partners so that LGBT-owned business will have full access to the NGLCC’s and SBA’s full suite of offerings that help business succeed. Link to the complete February 5, 2015 announcement. This partnership highlights that as with all minority communities, the fight for civil rights and for market rights / economic empowerment are strongly linked.

After sharing this announcement at the March RBPN meeting, Patrick provided the audience with a great tutorial of many services available from the SBA to help small business launch and then successfully grow and sustain themselves. The offerings include:
Counseling. Small business owners are not out there by ourselves needing to figure out everything needed to start and run a business from scratch. Classes and one-on-one counseling help are available through the Women’s Business Centers (4 in NC), SCORE Chapters (10 in NC), and the Small Business Technical Development Centers (15 in NC)
Capital. Loans of all sizes are made much more accessible and come with better terms through SBA guarantees. Loans are available for start up, company real estate and sustaining a business
Contracting. Assistance in becoming an actual contractor or subcontractor for the many areas of the US Federal Government, which has multi-billions of dollars in procurement spending.

This new LGBT Business Builder partnership is still in its very early stages with many of the execution details to be launched, including here in North Carolina. I am looking forward with great anticipation as more LGBT-owned business start and grow in Raleigh and across the rest of NC and beyond!

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Blog author Stan C. Kimer is the founder and owner of Total Engagement Consulting by Kimer, the first certified LGBT-Business Enterprise in Raleigh, NC.

The Raleigh Business and Professional Network (RBPN) is one of the 38 NGLCC local affiliates in the US. Corporate sponsorships are now available!

RBPN board member Ben Kittner, included in the blog photo above, is founder and president of College Performance Coaching, a new entrepreneurial venture.

The US Small Business Administration (SBA) was created in 1953 as an independent agency of the US Federal Government to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns. Additional link to North Carolina specific site.

The National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce is the business voice of the LGBT community and is the largest global not-for-profit advocacy organization specifically dedicated to expanding economic opportunities and advancements for LGBT people.