ROI (Return on Investment) is usually understood to be a valuation formula to determine a business’s worth by dividing net profit by total assets.
As a small business owner, I’m using ROI to mean how much time, effort and money I direct towards a specific task before the results of that task earn me a profit.
In this segment, I’m presenting the results of my interactions and meetings with organizations that fall under the various Supplier Diversity programs.
What is a Supplier Diversity program?
Supplier Diversity programs and recognized designations, whether by government or by corporations, are designed to give small businesses better access to compete for government contracts and enhance small business(es) access to additional revenue streams.
Government agencies have long been required to “set aside” a certain percentage of awarded contracts to small businesses, especially those with minority, veteran or woman owned certified status.
Additionally, many corporations have begun to offer supplier diversity programs. The proposed purpose of these programs is to encourage and promote additional revenue streams for small business.
When I originally heard about these programs, I was very excited. I proceeded to enroll in the supplier diversity programs with several corporations, including:
- Kelly services
- Federal Reserve
In the majority of cases, I simply received no response or communication from these companies once I joined. I did do follow up work with two organizations that I will reference here – Citibank and PNC Bank.
Below is the link to Citibank’s supplier diversity program FAQ.
A summary of that FAQ states:
- Access– We will make every attempt to put you in contact with the appropriate purchasing professional for your product or service.
- Fair Treatment– Our processes are set up to ensure equal and fair treatment to you and your company so that you can fully participate in the purchasing and contracting process.
- Feedback– We will provide feedback regarding performance and other business issues.
I sent 4 separate emails to Citibank’s supplier diversity email address expressing interest, advising completion of registration and indicating I was available for participation. I finally received a response from the Assistant Vice President of Supply Chain Development indicating my application had been received and I would be advised if any opportunities arose for my area of business.
I responded to the VP indicating interest in Citibank’s mentoring and training programs:
I received this response: “…programs like the ones described on our web site are hosted by invitation and in alignment with Citi’s current business needs and availability of resources. We use Supplier Connection, WBENC, NMSDC, NYCSBS and others to identify potential suppliers, and often to co-host events or work within on-going programs. I would encourage you to investigate the Supplier Connection website, regional chambers and WBENC affiliates in your geography as appropriate to your personal business plan in order to become better informed about all of the NGO, government, and corporate programs available to you.”
Hmmm…that doesn’t seem to be what their website describes for this program. I thought reading their FAQ’s DID make me better informed….
I went to a networking event at a local PNC bank branch. I had a very interesting discussion with the bank manager who subsequently invited me to present my business and how I believed PNC bank could partner with me. We had a very positive and encouraging meeting. I happened to mention the PNC supplier diversity program – which she seemed to know nothing about – and how that might further enhance our partnership.
For the next six weeks, I was bounced around to numerous supposed diversity supplier team members. I sent numerous emails and left numerous voice messages – all with either no response or a response that I wasn’t getting to the right team member.
After summarizing my experiences and my frustrations to one of the team members, I was referred to the Director of Supplier Diversity. She informed me how wonderful PNC’s diversity supplier program is, considering that PNC has 68,000 employees – the diversity program has 2 employees. Seriously??? She also informed me that a new hire was in process and she assured me that this person would contact me. Many months later, I have received no additional contact from the PNC supplier diversity team. I have been added to PNC’s mailing list and I continue to receive requests to open checking accounts, merchant accounts, etc. This was not the follow up I expected.
Of all the supplier diversity programs I have joined, not one has ever contacted me.
In my case, the ROI score for Supplier Diversity programs is 0.
I want to give a negative score due to the time, effort and money this effort cost me. In an effort to be as objective as possible I will leave the score as a zero.
Today’s favorite: https://twoblindbrothers.com/