A big part of earning the attention, adoration, and loyalty of diverse and niche consumers demonstrates your commitment to them and their communities on a larger scale. Some brands have succeeded in doing this by investing in their communities.
Facebook does this by channeling its significant purchasing power with a substantial supplier diversity program. Since launching in 2016, the company has spent more than $ 1.1 billion with certified suppliers belonging to minorities, women, veterans, LGBTQ or people with disabilities. In 2021, they will deepen their commitment in this area, by committing to spend $ 1 billion per year with various vendors. They specifically allocated $ 100 million of those funds to black-owned businesses.
Jason Trimiew, Director of Global Supplier Diversity at Facebook, told me that the driving force behind the initiative is “the opportunity we are creating, and ultimately the ripple effect it has for these entrepreneurs, for their families and communities “.
Kristi Alford, President and CEO of E2 Optics, attests that this ripple effect is true, noting that the partnership with Facebook has helped her business mature over the years. And Chike Agbai, founder of Azumo, explained how being a minority vendor gave him access to accounts he fundamentally didn’t think he had access to otherwise.
Here are three ways Facebook is leading the way with its Supplier Diversity Program that you can embrace as well.
1. Remove obstacles.
For many businesses, working with a big company like Facebook as a customer is a dream. But for small businesses, the policies and practices put in place by large companies sometimes make it difficult to compete.
Trimiew says one of the goals of its supplier diversity program is to “Breaking down some of these long-standing and really hindering barriers that keep these companies, these entrepreneurs from truly being the best at what they are – business leaders and visionaries.”
That is why it is not necessary to have official certification as a minority supplier to apply for the Facebook program. If owners are certified, that’s fine, but the team doesn’t want pre-certification to be a barrier preventing them from committing. If a supplier wants to get certified, Facebook will help them through the process.
Additionally, many larger businesses will have longer payment terms, with vendors having to wait between 60 and 120 days to be paid. Facebook has recognized this challenge for small businesses and recently implemented a Debt financing program, which allows minority suppliers to get immediate payment on their invoices, to provide that very large influx of cash.
2. Create a sense of belonging.
Business is belonging. When your entrepreneurs feel like you belong, they reward you by producing some of their best work to help you grow. But just because you hire a supplier, especially a diverse supplier, doesn’t mean it’ll feel out of place.
Denene Rodney is president of Zebra Strategies, a market research company that works with Facebook. One of the things she appreciates the most about being a supplier to them is the sense of belonging they create. She said:
“I’ve been to a lot of supplier diversity events and purchasing managers that are supposed to talk about supplier diversity, but are they really engaged? Will they sit down and listen to what you have to say? Are they just going to tell you that we are not buying your category now? So the idea of feeling like you belong, the idea of being able to have accessibility, I think that’s a marked difference. [at Facebook]. “
Implementing a supplier diversity program is not enough. Take that extra step to make sure your various suppliers feel important.
3. Help suppliers be successful.
When minority vendors sign up to be part of Facebook’s program, they can book a capabilities presentation to deliver to internal teams. Rather than leaving owners to fend for themselves, the Supplier Diversity team helps them prepare to deliver a top-notch presentation.
Subsequently, they will even help circulate the presentations internally, in the hope of creating virality around the content to help suppliers get noticed by the teams concerned.
This sense of support helps forge a closer bond between the Supplier Diversity team and the companies in the program, which helps them feel like a true partner. David Lai, CEO and Creative Director of Hello Design told me it was a welcome approach.
“I think it’s different when you have someone who’s genuinely trying to build a relationship, to better understand your business, what you are, what you’re good at, what interests you. We think when we have these conversations with Facebook and I don’t think that’s true for everyone to be honest.
Everyone wins when your suppliers and the communities you serve are successful. Make sure you help them do it.