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The focus on diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives is transforming traditional organization norms. From board diversity and structure, the emphasis on employee engagement and well-being and shifting business ethics to emphasize inclusion, the way organizations function and retain talent and partnerships are evolving.
In the latest episode of The Digital Decode, we spoke with Jonathan Wilkins, Supplier Diversity Program Executive at Presidio. We dived into the importance of shifting business ethics to emphasize inclusion and Presidio’s steps to ensure supplier diversity.
Join us as we discuss:
- Guiding principles for building diversity initiatives
- Internship programs and scholarships for young professionals
- Workplace culture and owning your voice in corporate spaces
Building diversity initiatives: Benefits and guiding principles
“This whole idea of supplier diversity came about in the 1960s and was a federally mandated program.” — Jonathan Wilkins
Diversity initiatives can bring great opportunities to your organization. Beyond compliance with regulations and standards, businesses are seeing increased workplace satisfaction, higher retention and more innovation with Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, or DEI programs and practices.
In fact, 59% of businesses attribute a significant impact on revenue growth and brand reputation to DEI initiatives.
While program development will vary between businesses, there are a few key factors that each will need to consider.
“You have to ensure you have the pipeline of diverse vendors that can do the work for you,” Jonathan says. “You need to go out and find vendors you trust, that do good work and that have the diversity portfolio you need to fill those contracts.”
Jonathan also says it’s important to bring together supply diversity and traditional DEI leadership and efforts. When the two converge, experts on each end can share best practices and work together to foster innovation for a greater return on investment.
When diversity is built within an organization, it better supports efforts to expand initiatives to partnerships and suppliers.
Internship programs and scholarships for young professionals
One way to foster diversity and innovation internally is through targeted internship program opportunities.
“Companies are much more innovative — and have a greater return on investment — the more diverse they are.” — Jonathan Wilkins
At Presidio, internship opportunities are actively expanding as leaders reach out specifically to universities with traditionally underrepresented students. When these interns are welcomed into the company, they serve a variety of roles and are taught that working at Presidio doesn’t necessarily require them to take up a highly technical role.
Further, scholarships can empower students to feel valued and contribute more to the workplace and within their schooling. Offering scholarships for interns can ramp up investment and interest across the board.
Internship opportunities also allow an organization to have an impact beyond its company. The interns that move on from the organization after graduation enter the workforce with expectations guided by their experiences.
“We set the bar really high for what they expect in a corporate America,” Jonathan says. “We all have equal value inside the company. We all offer some unique value — most corporations don’t recognize that.”
Workplace culture and owning your voice in corporate spaces
Presidio serves as an example for companies around the world. By championing owning their voice in the workplace, they continue to push the envelope on increasing diversity, equity and inclusion.
“We had $145 million in spending and calendar year 2021 with smaller, diverse businesses and we’ve seen 8.2% growth year over year,” Jonathan says.
To implement an effective and influential supplier diversity program that empowers people across the organization, it’s important to ensure strategies and plans are accessible and available. At Presidio, the supplier diversity program can be accessed on the website by anyone across the organization.
“Anytime anybody in our organization needs the Supply Diversity Policy, on the Supply Diversity website, they can pull it and utilize it.” — Jonathan Wilkins
Gamifying diversity efforts can also bring goals to fruition, help teams work in alignment and build culture.
“We can start to measure and give targets to each one of the region’s business units and make it a fun contest,” Jonathan says. “We’re launching some very strategic initiatives, and we’ve already implemented several strategic partnerships with some small and diverse businesses across the US.”