By Ralph G. Moore,
president, Ralph G. Moore & Associates
America’s aha moment on
race has spurred corporations, significant nonprofits and universities,
chambers of commerce and industry groups to take the following encouraging
• Expand focus on supplier
diversity and its impact on economic justice and community engagement.
• Substantially increase
membership in national and regional nongovernmental organizations or NGOs
focused on supplier diversity and economic opportunity.
• Advance racial equity
and supplier diversity using over $50 billion in pledges.
• Fund at record levels
private equity firms to expand their focus on creating scalable, diverse
• Expand influential
nonprofit Business RoundTable’s “Purpose of a Corporation” doctrine to include
the communities where its members do business.
However, this increased
interest has also created a new class of the supplier-diversity ecosystem —
Ralph G. Moore &
Associates Inc. (RGMA) defines impostors as established organizations and
consulting firms — historically focused on community engagement; supply-chain
management; and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) consulting — that
suddenly, without the prerequisite experience, become self-anointed supplier
buying organizations engage impostors for guidance on how to establish a new
supplier diversity program or refresh an existing one, bad advice produces
disappointing outcomes, including:
• Failure to align with
overall business objectives.
• Ill-conceived notions on
the supplier diversity value proposition.
• Inability to secure
• Inability to distinguish
supplier diversity technology from supplier diversity strategy.
• Illogical stakeholder
categories when creating global supplier diversity strategies.
• Ineffective diverse
supplier capacity-building strategies.
Another damaging aspect of
the impostor phenomenon is the scores of corporations that will fail to realize
the supplier diversity return on investment (ROI) from engaging some of the
thousands of outstanding minority suppliers. In addition, corporations with
adverse supplier diversity outcomes are more likely to disengage from supplier
Impostors’ negative impact
on the supplier diversity ecosystem
questionable advice to leaders of major buying organizations, impostors are
gaining footholds throughout the supplier diversity ecosystem, leaving a wake
of chaos and dysfunction created by incoherent guidance on governance, outreach
and capacity-building strategies in the name of “fresh ideas.” There is a
plethora of examples of this problem, including:
Problem with the Recommendations
Make certifications easier by
eliminating site visits.
gateway for front companies.
Create a separate impact sourcing
strategy housed outside procurement to ensure diverse supplier participation.
Loses the ability to measure the
supplier diversity ROI, creating the false perception that diverse suppliers
cannot compete with nondiverse suppliers. THIS IS A MYTH! Removing supplier
diversity from procurement is the kiss of death.
Hypocrisy of the impostors
adds insult to injury
The hypocrisy displayed by
these overnight experts is the impostor phenomenon’s most offensive aspect. At
the dawn of the 21st century, many impostors refused to establish supplier
diversity programs within their organizations—despite being consultants of
choice to corporations with industry-leading supplier diversity programs. In
some cases, impostors created token supplier diversity programs to appease
their clients, and they refused to become members of the diverse-supplier
advocacy groups that they now want to advise.
To fully understand the
extent of the hypocrisy displayed, many of these impostors were the most vocal
critics of supplier diversity over the past 25 years. Several veteran supplier
diversity practitioners shared how they were threatened and intimidated by
staff members from impostor firms when their supplier diversity strategies “got
in the way” of the projected savings targets recommended by the impostors —
which also impacted the impostors’ fee structure.
Following is a summary of
a supplier diversity comment contained in a strategic sourcing report from one
of the impostors that was shared with me in confidence and reflects the
aggressive push back on the notion of doing business with diverse suppliers:
“The continued pursuit of
the corporation’s supplier diversity spend goals have a potentially negative
impact on the organization’s ability to meet the projected savings targets.”
corporate leaders: Supplier diversity is not a prudent business activity.
How to identify impostors
Impostors are thriving
because few supplier diversity stakeholders dare to question the capabilities
of these branded firms. RGMA suggests that members of the supplier diversity
ecosystem use the same vetting approach when the potential supplier vets a diverse
firm. A few basic questions will expose the impostor without the need for
confrontation. Here they are:
1. Does your company have
a supplier diversity program? If yes, what year was it established?
2. Please share the list
of diverse-supplier NGOs where your company is a member and the tenure of those
3. Please share the bio of
your company’s supplier-diversity team and how long its members have worked for
4. Regarding your firm
providing consulting or training services to our organization:
a. Please provide three
references from clients to whom you have provided similar services.
b. Please provide bios of
the proposed engagement team.
Call to action
Despite the current chaos
among some NGOs, others continue to embrace excellence and integrity.
Collectively, we must expand our support of those well-managed NGOs, while
challenging the directors of mismanaged NGOs to step up and do their jobs.
These directors must assess the organization’s performance, read their mission
statements, meet with their lawyers, seek guidance from bona fide supplier
diversity subject matter experts and utilize provisions within the bylaws to
return such NGOs to sane and impactful operations.
Now is the time!
diversity stakeholders share my perspective but are waiting for someone else to
act. This is not a time to sit on the sidelines, as waiting is a losing
• If you are a dues-paying
member of an NGO that is in flux, now is the time to get involved.
• If you are a board
member of an NGO, now is the time to question the judgment of your leaders if
they have hired an impostor to create a “new strategy.”
• If you are a supplier
diversity leader in a Fortune 500 corporation, now is the time to ask your
leadership team to reconsider hiring a DEI firm to create your “impact sourcing
• If you are an active
member of your industry association, now is the time to challenge the group’s
need to focus on diverse supplier capacity-building and measurement standards.
Expertise is often the
difference between success and failure in a critical moment. With the proper
knowledge, tools and strategies, firms and businesses can maximize their
resources and potential. We must collectively minimize the influence of
impostors, while collaborating with subject matter experts to develop and
implement today’s best practices and tomorrow’s next practices.
Don’t let the big names
and fancy graphics fool you. There are several seasoned supplier diversity
consulting firms in the marketplace with the expertise and experience that can
assist supplier diversity stakeholders in developing and executing their strategies.
Join us as we meet this