BDR members spend a minimum of $1 billion annually with MBEs

By M.V. Greene


It was a wonderful high-five moment for the Billion Dollar Roundtable Inc. (BDR) — the induction of seven new member companies into the organization, the most in a single year since its founding in 2001.


“Seven is the number. Isn’t that amazing?” said , supplier diversity and inclusion director at Johnson & Johnson, who served as host of the induction ceremonies with Raul Suarez-Rodriguez, director, global economic inclusion and supplier diversity at Merck & Co. Inc. Johnson & Johnson and Merck were inducted into BDR in 2011 and 2017, respectively.


The seven new BDR member companies — the most inductees in a single year in BDR history — were Abbott, Amazon, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Caterpillar, Citi, Duke Energy and ExxonMobil, bringing the number of BDR member companies to 39. The new members were inducted during BDR’s 2003 annual Best Practices Summit, held this year in Chicago, Illinois.


 “This induction is both a celebration of achieving a major milestone and recognition of leadership in supplier diversity,” said Shelley Stewart Jr., BDR chairman. He was joined on the summit stage by Sharon Patterson, BDR co-founder, president and CEO, and Don McKneely, BDR co-founder and chairman emeritus, to welcome and introduce the new member companies.


“This is my best moment, getting in front of you and inducting our new members,” Patterson said. “[BDR] brings together major corporations that make measurable and meaningful contributions to the growth of diverse-owned entities.”


McKneely noted the high bar to BDR membership, as corporations must meet a threshold annually of documented Tier I supply chain spend of $1 billion or more with diverse suppliers whose major ownership is minority, women, veterans, disabled or LGBTQ.


“To be a member of the organization requires a lot of work, commitment and, of course, strategic direction,” he told the summit audience. “Spending more than $1 billion on a first-tier basis with diverse business enterprises year over year is no easy task. The members share experiences and best practices to help each other.”


A big deal

Since 2022, 11 major U.S.-based corporations have earned membership in BDR. A greater commitment to supplier diversity emerged as part of diversity, equity and inclusion or DEI initiatives from many U.S. corporations following the social justice protests of 2020 to address systemic societal inequities.


New member company inductions always are a big deal at BDR summits with much applause and fanfare throughout the ballroom, as new members bring in executives and supplier-diversity staffs to join in the celebration. The inductees also get to present a video message to the audience about their companies and efforts in supplier diversity.


Melissa Brotz, chief marketing and communications officer at Abbott — which is joining BDR along with Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. as one of two health care companies — said supplier diversity is core to the company’s global business strategy, noting that it markets products in more than 160 countries and helps more than 2 billion people each year in the United States and around the world.


“Abbott exists to help people live fuller lives through better health,” she said. “We could not serve that fundamental purpose without respect for and commitment to diversity. It is precisely because of the importance of that purpose that we value diversity in our supply chain.”   


Rondu Vincent, executive director, global supplier diversity and sustainability at Bristol-Myers Squibb, said his company has operated supplier-diversity initiatives for the past 25 years, and membership in BDR reinforces that its commitment “has never been stronger than it is today.”


“We are at the cusp of transformational opportunities for minority and diverse businesses globally. It is important that we do not stop. Our work is not done,” he said.


I. Javette Hines, director, global head, supply chain development, inclusion and sustainability, Citigroup Inc., said her company has been on the march to BDR membership since 2017, enhancing best practices, strengthening supplier diversity alignment with company business leaders and setting clear directives.


She said Citi reached diverse spend of $1.3 billion in 2022, including nearly $600 million with African American enterprises.


“It brings me great joy to be the voice of colleagues working across Citi to make BDR a reality, Hines said. “We firmly believe that cultivating a diverse business environment not only nurtures creativity, but also develops empathy, hard work, character and an understanding of business diversity across the board. It advances our ability to deliver excellence to our global clientele. But most importantly, it ensures that diverse suppliers have a seat at the table.” 


Billion Dollar Roundtable Inc. Billion Dollar Roundtable BDR Charlene Vickers Johnson & Johnson Raul Suarez-Rodriguez Merck & Co Abbott Amazon Bristol-Myers Squibb Caterpillar Citi Duke Energy ExxonMobil Shelley Stewart Jr. McKneely diversity equity and inclusion DEI initiatives Melissa Brotz Rondu Vincent I. Javette Hines Citigroup Inc. Induction Inductees

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