Debunking Supplier Diversity Myths – Part 4

Welcome to the final part of Debunking Supplier Diversity Myths series. Over the past couple of weeks we have looked at myths surrounding supplier diversity, diverse suppliers, and supplier diversity programs. If you missed the series, click here to access Part 1.

Today I decided to tackle internal communication happening inside the large corporations and government organizations.

Myth #7: Diversity is our procurement department’s responsibility

The problem with this statement is that it is fundamentally wrong. When one department pulls in a different direction than the others, the organization cannot succeed. At WBE Canada we believe that organizations must act in synchrony to achieve their best results.

Catherine Grosz, Manager, Supplier Diversity, Procurement at BMO agrees, “At BMO Supplier Diversity is everyone’s responsibility. You cannot be effective in a silo.”

BMO is a leader when it comes to supporting women-owned businesses. Commitment to supporting business women is engraved in this organization’s DNA. It is more than just a procurement initiative. BMO offers products to finance the growth of women-owned businesses, offers training for women-preneurs, and they sponsor events to help women build their networks, learn and grow. Organizations like BMO empower the ecosystem by ensuring that women-owned businesses are competitive, financially healthy and successful.

In the words of Amanda Krogol, Supplier Diversity Program Manager, General Motors LLC, “Supplier Diversity may be situated within your Procurement Department, but it is everyone’s responsibility. Supplier Diversity should be supported from your CEO all the way down through your organization. These suppliers (all suppliers) impact your bottom line, products/services, safety, etc. It’s your entire organization’s responsibility to cultivate strong strategic suppliers.”

GM knows about supplier diversity. They are one of the top US companies who have supplier diversity embedded into its internal structures, being a strong advocate not only in the US where it’s mandated, but also North of the border in Canada where they lead by example with their commitment to supplier diversity as part of their corporate social responsibility. GM recently celebrated 50 years of supplier diversity and has a strong commitment to buying from diverse suppliers, encouraging its Tier 1 suppliers to do the same.

Another WBE Canada Corporate Member who is committed to fostering a diverse entrepreneurial ecosystem is BDC.

“By sourcing from women-owned businesses, we are noticing that some corporations are effectively expanding their global markets, diversifying their supply chains, and growing the economy,” says Lesley Lawrence, Senior Vice-President, Ontario at BDC and a WBE Canada Board member. “A step forward, but more needs to be done. Along with our partners, BDC is committed to creating more opportunities and opening doors for women entrepreneurs. As the only bank devoted exclusively to entrepreneurs, we believe we have an important role to play in promoting diversity and supporting the growth and ambition of women-owned businesses.

With a broader diversity lens, we have taken concrete steps to improve our supplier diversity program. Businesses can now add their profiles to our supplier database to give us more visibility to the full range of options available to us. We want our organization, and the people in it, to reflect Canada’s increasingly diverse workforce and business community and to leverage these different backgrounds and expertise to the benefit of our clients and employees.

We will use our size and market position to promote this agenda and support diverse entrepreneurs across Canada. We are also proud to work in partnership with like-minded organizations like WBE Canada to continue to position businesses for success and most importantly, leverage the vast untapped economic potential represented by women as suppliers.” Lesley Lawrence, Senior VP, Financing & Consulting – Ontario, BDC.

The best supplier diversity programs are the ones that get embedded throughout the organization. From BMO, through GM, DCM, to BDC, City of Toronto, and other organizations already committed to diversifying their supply chain, each of these organizations strives to educate their buyers internally on the benefits of supplier diversity. This is where leaders can help ensure that supplier diversity becomes more than just one of many activities – a commitment to move internal D&I (diversity & inclusion) initiatives outside through the supply chain.

It is exciting to watch companies across North America upping their commitment and spend with Canadian women-owned businesses. Yet, with only 1% of large companies active in the Canadian landscape, committed to buying from Canadian WBEs, the time is ripe to advance women not only inside the corporate structure, but also externally through strategic sourcing decisions.

WBE Canada offers more than just access to a database of vetted, certified Canadian businesses that are majority owned, managed and controlled by women. We organize events to facilitate training, resources, and networking opportunities with other corporate and government representatives as well as Canadian women-owned businesses. To join the movement, please check out our Corporate Membership. You CAN make a difference!

WBE Canada is here to support your sourcing goals.


Silvia Pencak
President, WBE Canada

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