Skip to main content
Home » Diversity in Business » How to Create a Minority Supplier Development Program for Your Business
Diversity in Business

How to Create a Minority Supplier Development Program for Your Business

Adrienne Trimble

CEO and President, National Minority Supplier Development Council

The National Minority Supplier Development Council recently wrapped up its annual conference at the Austin Convention Center in Texas. It is the world’s largest annual gathering in support of supplier diversity, and offers its participants a springboard for innovation and impact in supply chains to the global marketplace.

The conference was my first as President and CEO of NMSDC, and as such offered a new perspective on the work of NMSDC and its 23 regional affiliates. In my first address to the participants, I emphasized three priorities that will underlie my administration and its strategy: first, to develop and strengthen the national infrastructure of the NMSDC; second, to renew the spirit of unity and cohesion throughout NMSDC’s regional affiliate councils, so that corporate members and minority business enterprises experience consistent support from our network; and third, to ensure we have a stronger voice as advocates on behalf of our MBEs, and to make NMSDC a household name in American life and American business.

The power of partnership

For me, one of the high points of the conference was gaining new insight and recognition of the power of partnership — the opportunities for collaboration with other advocacy groups to support diversity throughout corporate America. For the fourth year, we partnered with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency, which kicked off its annual National Minority Enterprise Development Week at the Conference.

On the conference’s first day, we hosted our first-ever reception welcoming the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, to explore and enhance connections among our stakeholder groups. These organizations and others such as the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and National Veteran Business Development Council share intersectional membership with our own, and we need to develop programs and initiatives that leverage our joint strengths to our mutual advantage

The NMSDC’s core offering to its corporate membership is the certification of minority business enterprises with which members strike partnerships to supply products and services for their vital supply chains. With the steadfast and strong support of our corporate members, we are able to offer programs such as Emerging Young Entrepreneurs, Corporate Plus and CEO Academy, which pave the way for a more robust minority supply base, ready to provide practical and creative solutions that satisfy supply chain needs worldwide.

With such forward-thinking support and innovative programs, the NMSDC, now approaching its 50th anniversary, continues as the trailblazer in promoting minority supplier development.

Best practices in business

To advance its objectives, NMSDC asked its corporate members to develop a “best practices” list of goals that corporations should implement to create a world-class minority supplier development process. These goals include:

  • Establishing corporate policy and top corporate management support for minority supplier development, with supplier diversity incorporated in the business planning cycle and strategy and not implemented as a social policy “statement.” Supplier diversity should be part of the corporation’s overall diversity strategy
  • Developing a corporate supplier diversity plan, including the establishment of minority supplier development improvement processes for internal customers and cross-functional organizations, with input from minority supplier groups
  • Creating and maintaining methods for communication about minority supplier development planning, execution and accomplishments, including publishing results in corporate annual reports. Corporations should explain supplier selection criteria to prospective suppliers and encourage MBEs to seek certification and external training
  • Identifying opportunities for MBEs in strategic sourcing and supply chain management, advancing methods for recruiting and developing MBEs and working with first-tier suppliers to promote relationships that develop supplier diversity
  • Mentoring, training and preparing MBE suppliers for global competitiveness and sourcing trends such as supplier rationalization, through assistance in all aspects of capacity building. Working with organizations such as NMSDC that offer support to MBEs and emerging minority entrepreneurs
  • Setting aggressive goals for minority business spending, tracking those goals, and communicating results and goal achievement, providing accountability and recognition throughout the organization
  • Fine-tuning the corporate minority supplier development program on a regular basis to follow changes in corporate objectives and growth (including growth by acquisition and mergers). Fostering continuous improvement of supplier diversity, and benchmarking with other corporations to identify best practices and then plan for their systematic adoption by the organization
  • Instituting a comprehensive second tier program that creates a significant multiplier effect by encouraging the continual establishment of new supplier diversity programs, which in turn create incremental opportunities for minority businesses

These goals are helping NMSDC’s corporate membership realize solid achievements in advancing minority supplier development and may serve as guides for all corporate programs aimed at increasing supplier diversity. NMSDC and its corporate members are proud of their collaborative contributions to increased awareness of minority supplier development.

We encourage companies and MBEs to join our network and realize the substantial growth benefits of a diverse supply chain.

Next article