Going global with your supplier diversity programme

By 31st May 2019Blog
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An exceptional peer-to-peer learning and sharing workshop in New York 

As more and more USA-based corporations embark on a journey to take their local supplier diversity efforts global, it is critical they understand the opportunities and challenges they face.

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On 16 May, more than 70 supplier diversity professionals from Fortune 500 firms gathered in New York at a workshop organised by the Global Supplier Diversity Alliance (GSDA) and hosted by Accenture.

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Speakers included Mayank Shah, Founder and CEO, MSDUK; Cassandra Dorrington, CEO, CAMSC; Terrence Clark, CEO and President, NYNJMSDC; Theresa Harrison, EY; Nedra Dickson, Accenture; and Will Holmes, GSK.

The key takeaways for those thinking of developing a global supplier diversity programme were:

  • Do your research before deciding in which countries you want to start a programme. Context, history, culture, legislation and business climate differ between countries. To lay a strong foundation, it’s essential that you define a business case for each country
  • Local leadership commitment, support and engagement are the most important factors in delivering a world-class programme
  • Have a budget. Fund a full-time resource locally, invest in training local champions, budget for international travel and optimise resource utilisation by developing a regional strategy (EMEA, APAC etc)
  • Try to go into countries that have advocacy networks like MSDUK, CAMSC and WeConnect. These provide excellent support to local teams
  • Use forums like GSDA to connect with supplier diversity practitioners that have experience in running global programmes. This gives you access to best practice
  • Make sure you have a clearly defined business case for starting a programme in any country
  • Walk before you run!

The workshop ended on a high when three highly ambitious and inspirational minority business owners from the UK and USA shared their experiences of expanding their business globally. Sid Narang, CEO, The Squa.re, UK,  Daniel Sung Park, CEO, Eclaro International, USA and Reshma Moorthy, President and CEO, Frontier Technology talked about their experiences, both good and bad, of going into new countries.

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Tips for any minority business thinking of going global:

  • Understand and respect cultural sensitivity. Every country has a distinctive business culture. Respecting difference is critical to success
  • Patience is needed in abundance. If it takes a day to open a bank account in the US, it may take 60 days in the UK. If it takes only a week to start and register a company in one country, the same process may take six months somewhere else. Be prepared and have patience
  • Leverage governmental (chambers of commerce, export departments, etc) and non-governmental (GSDA partners) to get access to local research and regulations. Grants are available for attending trade shows or going on official business delegations
  • Use in-country supplier diversity advocacy networks to identify local minority business partners
  • Always have a good lawyer ready to help you draw up contracts and agreements
  • While choosing local business partners, take time to build trust before entering any legally binding contract
  • Follow your clients – this makes your journey faster and profitable!

It was an insightful workshop that left attendees excited and inspired!

Find out more about GSDA on www.gsda.global .