Visioneering Diversity Value

I first heard the term “visioneering” a few years ago, as it was used by author Andy Stanley for a book which he wrote using that word as his title. He defines visioneering as the engineering of a vision, and he defines vision as a clear mental picture of what could be, fueled by the conviction that it should be.

I believe a lot of people have the ability to envision a picture of what they think something should be. Unfortunately, a lot fewer of them are able to transform their visions into reality. Visioneers on the other hand have the ability to visualize incredible value in opportunities that others may not see. However, they don’t stop at “pie in the sky” thinking and ideas. They are able to engineer practical solutions that bring value and success to the situations that they encounter.

My vision for Supplier Diversity is that eventually there would be no need for this department, because it would be so integrated into a company’s operations that oversight and advocacy would not be necessary. This vision is driven by my conviction that diverse businesses, when given the right opportunities, are just as capable of providing high quality, competitive products and services as majority owned businesses are. One way to engineer this vision is to have more effective Supplier Diversity programs in corporations.

Based on the changing demographics, increasing buying power, and upsurging business growth in minority groups, companies today should be even more embracing of Supplier Diversity than they currently are. Yet from my experience as a Supplier Diversity coach and consultant, many hearts and minds still need to be convinced of the value that Supplier Diversity adds to corporations.

Supplier Diversity is one of the main areas in organizations that is often overlooked in terms of adding value to the bottom line. Consequently, it is often relegated to the back burner as it relates to a company’s corporate strategy. This initiative still gets the compliance treatment in many companies, i.e. “we’re doing it because we’re being forced to do it.” Nevertheless, this area is an untapped source of value and innovation which corporations need to explore, especially with the constantly increasing pressures to grow in this demanding global business environment.

One of reasons that Supplier Diversity is in this situation is the fact that the success of most of these programs is too often determined by performance measures that are irrelevant and detached from the company’s other operational and financial goals. This only does Supplier Diversity a disservice and further alienates it from other “important” initiatives that are happening in the company (this is also one of the key reasons why human and financial resources are scarce for most Supplier Diversity departments). It’s no wonder that the employees and minority businesses associated with this area carry the stigma that this is a just social program or is only driven by compliance requirements.

If planned, developed, and executed with the right perspective, Supplier Diversity can be a significant contributor to a company’s operational, financial, and economic development goals. To make this happen, though, the same rigor and intensity in terms of developing and executing a strategic plan has to be applied to Supplier Diversity just as it is in other areas of the company. This initiative must be given the same consideration and held up to the same standards as other departments in regards to structure, processes, productivity, systems, standards, resource allocation, and performance measures (especially those other than spend dollars).

If visioneered effectively, Supplier Diversity can be an incredibly powerful vehicle to drive creativity and entrepreneurial thinking. Just like other suppliers, diverse businesses increase supply chain capacity and flexibility, drive innovation, deliver cost savings, and provide market intelligence. Key initiatives that can be enhanced through Supplier Diversity’s intentional integration are strategic sourcing, marketing, product design, operational improvements, organizational change, economic development, and community outreach, among others.

With this being the case, companies can actually gain a competitive advantage by developing and adhering to purchasing processes that are inclusive of all types of qualified suppliers. The more open a company is to allowing diverse businesses to compete on a level playing field, the more they will prosper from the power of inclusion.

Supplier Diversity is one of the greatest untapped resources for economic growth in corporate America. Right now, though, the onus is on Supplier Diversity to prove their value to corporations beyond the social and compliance aspects. I will steal a line from one of our former Presidents and say, “Ask not what your company can do for Supplier Diversity. Instead ask what Supplier Diversity can do for your company.” Don’t just say it, but prove to those with the financial resources that Supplier Diversity adds significant value.

Supplier Diversity managers and minority business owners need to figure out new, creative ways of thinking, operating, and working together so that they can to help make these programs contribute more measurable value to corporations’ operational, financial, and economic development goals. Only then will Supplier Diversity get the focus, respect, and resources it needs to operate as a truly strategic, value-adding initiative.

Empowering Champions,
Paul Wilson, Jr.

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About Paul Wilson Jr.
Paul Wilson, Jr. is a "Dream Catalyst" and Marketplace Pastor for leaders and entrepreneurs. He is driven to lead people to unleash God’s potential in their lives through their purpose, passions, and professional skills. He equips leaders with creative, faith-based strategies to flourish spiritually and professionally, while operating from several multi-media platforms, including TV show host, inspirational speaker, and stimulating writer. Paul is the President of Kingdom Business University, which utilizes workshops, consulting, and coaching services to ignite Christian catalysts maximize their God-given mission in the marketplace. He is the author of the life purpose igniter “Dream B.I.G. in 3D: How to Pursue a Bold, Innovative God-Inspired Life!” He is also the host of Passion in Action, a motivational and educational faith-based Internet TV show for social entrepreneurs, business leaders, and community change agents. Contact us today to learn more about how he can help your business, church, or community to thrive on purpose!

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