Supplier Diversity 101

If It Is To Be, It Is Up To Me 

Our CEO + Founder Shares His Journey to Supplier Diversity

Growing up in the inner city of Chicago on its dangerous West Side, Robinson LaRueCo Consulting (RLC) Founder and CEO Lamont Robinson knows well the challenges of living in an under-served community. As a child, he remembers wondering why he never saw a business owner who looked like him and over time began to believe it just wasn't possible. 

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Diversity Equals Sustainability

An Interview with our President of Supplier Diversity + Community Engagement

According to Jesse Crawford, diversity is sustainability because of the different values and benefits brought to the table when we look at attributes such as gender, age, ethnicity, experiences and differences of thought. Everyone benefits from those different perspectives if we can truly appreciate and capitalize on what those contributions bring.

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Financial Gains of Supplier Diversity

An Interview with our President of Finance + Operations

"Knowing a corporation needs to meet a diverse supplier spend raises all competition because it requires all viable competitors to up their game and think outside the box, by either offering savings or doing affordability initiatives to reduce their own costs in order to better compete with diverse businesses that may be more agile," says Adrianne Norwood. "Supplier diversity forces people to get creative, which is a win all around."

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why does supplier diversity matter?

by Kristin Bentley

As we celebrated our first National Small Business Week in May, we commemorated the 30 million U.S. small businesses that have created almost 59 million jobs. One third of these are women-owned, 29 percent are minority-owned, and almost ten percent are veteran-owned.

Unemployment rates for our African-American, Hispanic-American, and Asian-American communities, which are historically underserved, are also at a record low. This progress may be associated with the rising awareness of supplier diversity programs and all they have to offer.

Supplier diversity initiatives not only provide valuable incentives to corporations such as improving its bottom line and brand appearance, but they also support local diverse businesses by creating jobs.

Examples of Supplier Diversity Certifications

Diverse suppliers include those that are at least 51 percent owned, operated and controlled by women, minority, LGBT, veteran, or disabled-owned business owners. Qualifying businesses can self-certify directly or seek a third party organization, such as the national councils associated with each certification.


Among the major diversity certifications are:

1. Women-owned Business Enterprise (WBE)

In 2018, women-owned businesses reached 12.3 million, which has increased by 58 percent since 2007. These businesses employ 9.2 million people and earn a revenue of $1.8 trillion. The specific requirements to be considered a WBE are set by the Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC)

2. Minority-owned Business Enterprise (MBE)

When President Nixon signed an executive order to create the Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency in 1969, our minority population was less than 40 million. Today, that number has more than tripled to 129 million. Minority-owned businesses have created more than 6.3 million jobs and generated over $1 trillion in revenue. Requirements to be a MBE are set by the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC).

3. LGBT-owned Business Enterprise (LGBTBE)

Most LGBT businesses have been in business for at least 12 years, well above the national average. The estimated 1.4 million business owners have earned $1.7 trillion to the U.S. economy. "This groundbreaking report proves our NGLCC philosophy that  

economic visibility, just like social visibility, is essential in developing a diverse and inclusive society," said NGLCC Co-Founder & CEO Chance Mitchell. Requirements to be a LGBTBE are set by the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC).

4. Veteran-owned Small Business (VOSB)

A VOSB-certified business is given top priority for government contracts and subcontracting opportunities. The Veterans Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development Act of 1999 was created to offer additional assistance to veterans who own businesses. The federal government is required to award 23% of all contracts to small businesses, and a VOSB certification gives you access to an additional 3% of federal government contracts and subcontracts. Though a small percentage, this equals billions of dollars of work every year. Requirements to be a VOSB are set by the Vets First Certification Program.

5. Disabled-owned Business Enterprise (DOBE)

With this certification, disabled-owned businesses have increased access to contracts offered by large corporations and market advantages over competitors. As a group that is considered to be ‘disadvantaged’ in the U.S., disabled-owned businesses are often more attractive to large businesses involved in national, state, and local supply chains. Requirements to be a DOBE are set by the U.S. Business Leadership Network (USBLN).

Start Building a Diverse Supply Chain Today

Having a diverse supply chain has many financial and social benefits. Financially, introducing diverse suppliers increases the number of suppliers to a supply chain. More viable suppliers increase competition, which leads to more aggressive pricing and ultimate discounts from the participating suppliers.

Socially, supporting local diverse businesses through a supplier diversity program leads to job creation in underserved communities, as small businesses are typically the employers to these residents.


RLC seeks to build exemplary supplier diversity programs through this intersection of business and social needs. Our supplier diversity programs focus on revenue generation, infrastructure building, diversity spend and education while building a program around our clients’ overall strategy. We truly believe this approach creates a sustainable supplier diversity program that is discussed among the C-suite, not as a cost center but its own revenue-generating business unit.

We build supplier diversity programs at various levels, specific to the needs of our clients. It is impossible to build successful supplier diversity programs with a cookie cutter or simple out-of-the-box approach, or without the strategic integration of a client’s methodology or strategy. RLC is able to successfully launch exemplary supplier diversity programs because of our plethora of supplier diversity and procurement experience while truly understanding our clients’ strategic goals and needs.

If you’re ready to partner with us to build a successful, sustainable, strategic supplier diversity program, contact us.

@2019 Robinson LaRueCo Consulting LLC