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Over the past six months, I have been fortunate to work together with a team of colleagues as part of the One Billion Lives intrapreneurship program at SAP. We have been identifying opportunities for reducing barriers faced by diverse suppliers and social enterprises. You can read more about our One Billion Lives journey on arun.p's blog here.

Having collaborated with numerous stakeholders, my biggest observation is the extremely high level of passion and enthusiasm there is to drive change and make an impact. By bringing purpose into the procurement process - and I suspect any process – the stakeholders feel super-connected at the human, societal and community level.

Despite a growing momentum, there is so much work ahead to As highlighted by the University of Pennsylvania article The Brutal Facts of Supplier Diversity

Supplier diversity is only achieved when a company strives for purchasing and income equality and purpose-driven procurement that provides increasing opportunities for under-represented communities.

It tackles a full group of Sustainable Development Goals related to equality and acts as a foundation to accelerate many other related goals.

Much attention is given to SDGs like climate action and associated net zero ambitions. But I believe we also need to recognize that these goals are not isolated and that by levelling-up society, those with the greatest potential to influence carbon containment and responsible consumer consumption, need additional resources to make the most impactful alternative choices.

Supplier Diversity SDGs

Businesses recognize that social purpose is not just an element of business practice, or even complementary to their brand. It IS their brand and essential to success with an increasingly aware consumer base.

Building a diverse set of suppliers needs a complete mindset shift that relies on currently missing transparency and consolidation of scattered information.

Many companies have already made great strides like the members of the Billion Dollar Roundtable, who have have achieved a billion dollars in diverse spend. And while motivation can be altruistic, there is also extreme market pressure as investors like Blackrock and Wall Street push for accountability with governments mandating reporting standards.

Our proposed solution builds a pipeline of emerging diverse suppliers and social enterprises by fostering new and meaningful relationships. The guided journey starts with outreach and progression through step-by-step assessments. By intelligently matching buyers to suppliers, we guide them through specific certification and qualification needs, rewarding them with intelligence on opportunities and demand that helps them to grow their business.

The solution helps suppliers to enrich their profiles and makes sure that they are maximizing the full benefit from their investments and credentials. Specific buyer demand is shared based on input from diverse spend reporting and priorities for upcoming spend opportunities for specific org units, regions, products, and services. After outreach and pre-qualification incubation, the trading partner profile is created in the business network along with remaining qualification processes to start transacting.

I believe that we need to break-down the entry barriers for diverse suppliers and social enterprises to engage with more companies and larger organizations to gain a fairer share of business. The growth of these suppliers directly contributes to the Sustainable Development Goals for equality, decent work and economic growth. And indirectly through investment and growth in their respective communities. We need to get smarter at providing opportunity intelligence that rewards suppliers and recognize that as ESG reporting standards are tightened, supplier diversity becomes a valuable commodity in its own right.

Our team; Chris Lewis, arun.p, timothy.curcio look towards our next step in the One Billion Lives Transformation Venture. Wherever the journey takes us, you can be sure is the start and not the final destination.