By Catherine Grosz
Supplier Diversity first crossed the 49th parallel into the Canadian market in 2004. At that time, corporations taking a hard look at the concept of evolving Diversity and Inclusion initiatives pretty much relegated Supplier Diversity programs to someone who worked the concept from the side of their desk. Best Practices shared amongst American corporations with Canadian affiliations was the extent of the tools and resources that those designated to flesh out a Supplier Diversity Program had in their arsenal. Leading the way were corporations, especially in the Automotive, Telecom and Financial sectors working together, outside their normal competitive models, to create ways of expanding the diversity of their supply chains as a means to ensure sustainability and economic growth in Canada through Supplier Diversity.
Forward to 2009 and the birth of WBE Canada. Founded by corporations to provide certification services for their supplier diversity programs and specifically for Canadian women-owned enterprises, it quickly became apparent that not only did corporations (and later government organizations) need to better understand Supplier Diversity, but strategies to build Supplier Diversity programs needed to be developed and implemented. In essence Supplier Diversity was a blank sheet of paper.
The process not only involved councils such as WBE Canada and CAMSC undertaking to find vendors who fit the definition and criteria of a diverse supplier, but how to support Corporate Canada in their Supplier Diversity journey, including understanding what their supply chain needs were, building out policies and procedures across all departments, not just those directly involved in procurement, buy in by their C-Suite, cohesive outreach and buy in by their buyers. All of these conversations were paramount in developing a strategy for developing a best in class supplier diversity program.
Fast forward to TODAY. In 17 short years, Supplier Diversity within Canadian corporations and government organizations has evolved remarkably. Today we have experts working together with representation on WBE Canada Committees and Board of Directors, sharing ideas and knowledge so WBE Canada can build the tools and resources to support the supplier diversity programs of North American Corporations and Canadian government organizations and create a need to incorporate best in class Supplier Diversity Programs. Supplier Diversity programs only work when those purchasing goods and services have a healthy, robust, innovative and knowledgeable source of suppliers to access which is why WBE Canada is focusing on the growth of its WBE database (over 25% YOY growth) and supplier development. WBE Canada is also involved with the Supplier Diversity Alliance Canada (SDAC), formed in 2016, to work with other Canadian certification councils including CAMSC, CGLCC, and IWSCC to ensure the collective work being done to grow supplier diversity in Canada has a far reaching economic impact on local and regional communities, national and global markets.
Success in how WBE Canada has evolved supplier diversity initiatives can be measured not only in the steady growth in membership and buy in from corporations and government organizations, but in member participation in programs such as WBE Canada’s Supplier Diversity Accelerator and Data Services – tools created to support our members to better understand their Canadian Supplier Diversity footprint, establish and continually uplevel their supplier diversity programs. Our members, no matter what stage their programs are at, can take advantage of training and support programs, vendor validation, and access to essential data, including Tier 1 and 2 spend analysis. The journey to expand supplier diversity awareness and secure corporate and government commitment to implement serious change in how supply chains diversify throughout, while slow to start, is gaining traction. It is programs such as these that will support the growth and sustainability of Supplier Diversity progress in Canada.
WBE Canada’s commitment is to empower Canadian women-owned businesses to equal access to corporate and public procurement and equally to create strong supplier diversity programs within Canada’s corporate and government procurement to ensure sustainable economic growth. To further understand WBE Canada’s initiatives to grow and expand Supplier Diversity within Canada’s corporations and government organizations, contact WBE Canada at firstname.lastname@example.org
Catherine Grosz has been integral in helping shape the growth of Supplier Diversity in Canada since 2007 and is a champion amongst her corporate peers and the diverse supplier community. After a long career with BMO, supporting the growth of their Enterprise Supplier Diversity Program, Catherine joined WBE Canada as Manager, Corporate Membership in January 2021. In her role, Catherine supports corporate members in their Supplier Diversity journey, helping develop the tools and resources needed to ensure the growth and sustainability of their supply chains and ultimately a more vibrant Canadian economy.