How to Improve Supplier Diversity and Inclusiveness in Your Contingent Workforce


The world of work becomes more diverse every year, as workers and organizations with greatly varied backgrounds, beliefs, and worldviews continue to increase in number and influence. A workforce strategy that falls out of step with these truths will struggle to attract the talent necessary to thrive. Embracing diversity in your workforce is more than just the socially responsible thing to do. It drives innovation and growth, improves access to top talent, and enhances creativity. Adding such benefits to your contingent workforce requires a conscious effort to integrate supplier diversity with other business priorities. Ways to do so include:

  • Gaining support from executive leadership
  • Identifying diversity champions throughout the organization
  • Building strong partnerships with diversity suppliers
  • Promoting an organizational culture that values diversity
  • Designing strategies for increasing diversity supplier participation

These key steps will lead you down the path of viewing diversity as more than a short-term initiative. They’ll lay the groundwork for a long-term commitment that can prove both exceptionally rewarding and challenging to implement and maintain. For this reason, many organizations look to managed services providers (MSPs) when considering ways of better-incorporating diversity suppliers into their contingent workforce.

Focus on Forming Diversity Partnerships

All major MSPs tout their ability to engage and report on organizations that hold supplier diversity certifications, usually through teams dedicated to managing supplier diversity. And most MSPs prominently feature diversity statements on their websites. Right motives, philosophies, and tactics can help supplier diversity programs make progress. Programs hoping for far-reaching change, however, require MSPs that adopt diversity as a cornerstone trait within their own organization.

How can an MSP establish rapport with the supplier diversity community? Participate in supplier diversity advocacy groups. Attend events that focus on minority- and women-owned businesses. Work closely with certifying bodies. These steps enhance the provider’s understanding of nuances invaluable in shaping a more inclusive mindset. Mentoring suppliers introduces them to new opportunities both within specific programs and in the larger marketplace. Regularly hosting events or establishing a supplier diversity advisory board enables an MSP to foster more collaborative partnerships. These practices establish an ongoing dialogue about strategies that increase diversity supplier success and ideas for resolving any challenges. Finally, a provider demonstrates its first-hand experience in putting supplier diversity strategies into practice when it maintains diverse representation at all levels of management, including executive leadership.

Having a partner who manifests a deep commitment to diversity gives you an advantage in creating a supplier diversity program that embodies the true spirit of diversity and inclusiveness. For example, some MSPs use diversity-certified billing agents to issue invoices for all contingent workforce activity, including non-certified suppliers. This type of tactic allows clients to reach diversity goals on paper, but does little to encourage overall participation among diversity suppliers. Better alternatives could entail adding a diverse payroll provider, setting up direct billing for diverse suppliers already in the program, or even giving diverse suppliers a head start on requisitions. One global pharmaceutical company worked with TAPFIN to deploy such a multi-faceted approach and achieved 64% tier-1 diversity spend and 10% tier-2 spend.

Make Diversity a Workforce Priority

A strategy for engaging diversity-owned enterprises has become less of a differentiator and more of an imperative, with contingent workforce usage on the rise. A diversity-minded MSP will help you precisely articulate how supplier diversity aligns with other organizational values while accounting for regional variances based on demographic trends and legal regulations. Expert guidance will connect you with a diverse collection of workforce partners that open your organization up to new ideas, thoughts, and opinions. Understanding their unique perspectives will help you maintain a culture of inclusiveness as workforce demographics continue to evolve.