“Supplier diversity touches everyone in an organization, from purchasing, sourcing, marketing, nutrition, facilities, construction, and value analysis to physicians and nurses. We welcome everyone to be a part of the supply chain leadership series and learn from the information members are sharing.” — Shaleta Dunn, Vizient senior director, program services.

As the country continues to recover from the COVID-19 global pandemic and the disruption it caused to the health care supply chain as well as social issues that occurred during 2020, a growing number of members saw the value and opportunity in diversifying their suppliers and further demonstrating their commitment to economic impact and healthier populations. In response, Vizient Supplier Diversity expanded the Expert Panel through a cross function collaboration with the networks group resulting in the 2021 Supply Chain Leadership Series: Spotlight on Supplier Diversity Expert Panel, a four-part webinar series featuring guest speakers from member organizations who share best practices and challenges.

“Every member is unique. And every member’s supply chain inclusion efforts and supplier diversity program journey is unique. Our goal is to meet members where they are, then support and guide them through their journey to success. The expert panel series honors that fact by sharing perspectives and challenges from a cross section of our membership,” says Shaleta Dunn, Vizient senior director, program services.

Series offers deep dive into supplier diversity

Vizient found that during 2020 supplier diversity had become a strategic priority for many members. “Through our member networks, we heard diversity and inclusion and supplier diversity emerge as strategic imperatives for members,” says Molly Zmuda, Vizient associate vice president member connections.

The series provides members with live and virtual opportunities to connect, learn, share and guide one another on developing, deploying, and delivering successful supplier diversity programs. The series is open to all members and offers the opportunity to earn continuing education credits. “The series is part of a multifaceted supply chain leadership educational experience that continues through peer networking meetings and our virtual and live educational events throughout the year to advance current and future supply chain leaders, “says Zmuda.

Members share impact of COVID-19 on supplier diversity programs

The 2021 webinar series kicked off in March and attendees heard from supplier diversity professionals at three major health systems who shared details about their programs. The speakers discussed their organizations’ supplier diversity objectives and goals and the metrics used to track performance. They also discussed how COVID-19 helped their organization refocus on supplier diversity and seek opportunities outside of sole sourcing.

One hospital in the northeast engaged a locally owned transportation company that was hard-hit by the pandemic to provide mobile COVID-19 testing in the community. When a midwestern multi-hospital health system’s catering needs slowed down due to employees working from home, the organization provided grants and loans to local catering companies to get them through the pandemic. Another member shared how several local diverse suppliers stepped up to provide personal protective equipment to the health system when many of its single-source suppliers were unable to meet demand.

During the panel discussion, speakers shared examples of supply categories where they have had big wins recently. On the capital side, one organization exceeded its goals for spending with minority- and women-owned businesses on two major construction projects. Another speaker discussed how the organization engaged with a woman-owned business to manufacture isolation gowns during the pandemic. The company had not manufactured isolation gowns previously, but quickly pivoted to remain viable during the pandemic. As a result, the health system had an adequate supply of gowns and the local manufacturer gained an additional source of revenue.

Discussions around supplier diversity will look different at each program, according to Carla Stephens, Vizient networks director. "Our goal is to provide members with current information and leading practices that they can then take back and apply in the culture at their organization to benefit community," says Stephens.

Upcoming webinars

Vizient will hold three more webinars this year: on June 2, September 2 and November 9. During the June 2 event, supply chain professionals from one of the nation’s largest hospital systems will share details about their supplier diversity program, including their work to develop jobs and economic impact within their communities, and how participation in the Billion Dollar Roundtable program (for organizations who achieve spending of at least $1 billion with certified minority, woman, LGBT, veteran, and disability-owned suppliers) fuels their commitment to spending with diverse suppliers.

Registration information for upcoming webinars is available online.

The Vizient team is consistently working on additional topics for the Supplier Diversity Expert Panel sessions. If you have a suggestion for an upcoming session, please let us know by emailing your topic or idea to us.

Published: May 18, 2021