Results were shared during the 2023 Billion Dollar Roundtable Best Practices Summit

By M.V. Greene


The big reveal at the Billion Dollar Roundtable Inc.’s (BDR’s) recent annual Best Practices Summit “Game On: Moving Global Supplier Diversity Beyond Spend” was a gigantic number — $320.5 billion.


That number represents the estimated economic impact of 2022 domestic supply chain diversity spend of the 39 BDR member companies, Sharon Patterson, BDR co-founder, president and CEO, announced at the summit.


The consolidated Tier I diversity spend attributed to BDR member companies in 2022 tallied $123 billion, according to a BDR economic analysis — or $2.21 to $2.99 in economic impact for every dollar spent.


Patterson noted that the spend includes an estimated $93 billion in wages paid — which supports 1.7 million jobs — and $171 billion of value add, such as business profits and taxes. She highlighted some of those key numbers to the summit audience from the analysis, as presented in the BDR 2023 Global Economic Impact Report — which is available at


With economic impact as the theme of the summit — which was hosted by BDR member company CDW Corp. — speakers and attendees discussed and deliberated topics that examined the multiplying economic effect of corporate supplier diversity spend in creating jobs, generating wealth and sustaining tax receipts and business profits in communities where diverse suppliers operate.


‘Mind-boggling’ results

During a presentation to the summit, Sharon Castillo — principal of SB Services Inc., which conducts spend audits annually for BDR — offered additional context of the consolidated supply chain spend of BDR member companies. She said the consolidated spend of $123 billion with diverse suppliers includes 74% to certified minority-owned firms, 22% to women-owned firms, 3.5% to firms owned by veterans and 0.5% to firms in the LGBTQ and disability categories.


“I honestly think BDR members think and understand that growing diverse spend in the supply chain is one of the most sustainable best ways to address widening economic income gaps,” she said.


Castillo said BDR member companies also collectively spent $18 billion outside the United States — with half spent with U.S.-based diverse suppliers that have global operations — and another $18 billion in Tier II spend.


“When you add up Tier I, Tier II and spend outside the United States, it is $159 billion. That’s a huge amount that’s just mind-boggling,” she said.


Castillo noted that with the induction of seven new members, BDR now includes six of the top eight U.S. Fortune 500 companies in its membership — Walmart, Amazon, ExxonMobil, Apple, CVS Health and Google.


With more than 350 attendees, which included corporate executives, supplier diversity professionals, diverse business owners, academics, governmental officials and policymakers, the 2023 BDR Summit was one of the largest of its invitation-only events held over the years at venues across the country.


Equity is key

Donald R. Cravins Jr. is the first-ever under secretary of commerce for minority business development for the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA). After more than 52 years in existence, MBDA was made permanent by an act of Congress with the enactment of the Minority Business Development Act of 2021, part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.


Delivering the summit’s keynote address, he acknowledged that initiatives that support diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) are “absolutely under attack in our nation today.”

In July 2023, 13 Republican attorneys general wrote a letter to the leaders of U.S. Fortune 100 companies warning them that using race as a factor in hiring and contracting “is unlawful and wrong.” The attorneys general addressed the issue following the Supreme Court decision that struck down the practice of affirmative action in college admissions.


Cravins thanked BDR member companies and other corporations for their “commitment to investing with equity” on behalf of diverse suppliers. He called MBDA “the finest example of an equity agency in the federal government.”


“Equity is the key to helping our nation achieve its full potential,” he said. “Thank you for investing in America and investing in diverse-owned firms.”


An Army National Guard major in the District of Columbia U.S. Army Judge Advocate General Corps, Cravins defined equity with examples from the military, calling the U.S. military one of the most diverse institutions serving the nation where recruits come from all walks of life and the military gives them the same tools to succeed.


“In every basic training, everyone is given the same uniform and the same pair of boots. But the military goes further than that,” he said. “It makes sure the uniform generally fits you, and it makes sure the boots are your size. It is important to know that no one runs for you, and no one shoots for you. No one climbs for you, and no one takes the test for you. You have to do those things on your own. But if you have the will and the want, the military will meet you where you are. Ladies and gentlemen, that is equity.”


Game on

During the summit’s fireside chat, Bob Kirby, senior vice president of public sales at CDW Corp., responded to a question from BDR Chairman Shelley Stewart Jr. about how his company is addressing current polarization over supplier diversity, which the information technology products giant approaches as business diversity to be in line with its corporate practices and goals.


He said business diversity is a board-level initiative at CDW that touches every level of the organization. Business diversity allows it to be “flexible and nimble,” as demanded by the technology industry, Kirby said. “It absolutely has helped our business grow. We’re a growth company with a growth mindset.”


To the summit audience’s applause, he said CDW will remain committed to business diversity.


“When you’re committed from a top-down level in every part of the organization, it really helps to filter out the noise. We keep our team focused on what’s really important,” Kirby said. “Don’t worry about the politics, and don’t worry about things you can’t control. Focus on what’s right.”


Among the many events featured at the summit, Janice Bryant Howroyd, founder and CEO of The Act 1 Group Inc. — one of the nation’s top talent and resource-management solutions company based in Torrance, California — moderated a lively and interactive discussion called “Game On: Going for the Extra Point.”


She was joined by three other prominent diverse suppliers — George Hill, chairman and CEO, Diversified Chemical Technologies Inc., a Detroit company that markets adhesives and chemicals; Rosa Santana, founder and CEO, Santana Group, a workforce solutions and manufacturing organization based in San Antonio, Texas; and Doug Crawley, CEO and president, Staffing Synergies Inc., a Matawan, New Jersey, company that provides warehouse staffing, packaging and distribution services.


Each of the panelists joined the stage to an individual theme song and video presentation about their companies. Howroyd said Hill, Santana and Crawley are examples that prove “going for the extra point in business requires bold moves fueled by strong relationships, competitiveness and collaboration.”


Crawley and Santana both challenged corporations to hold suppliers accountable for demonstrating economic impact.


“It is just not enough to give work to the supplier. We need some way of measuring the impact that it has on the community,” Crawley said. “As MBEs [minority business enterprises], we ought to be held accountable to make sure we have a direct impact in the communities in which we are involved.”


Santana said she is intentional about spreading out spend in her own supply chain to other minority- and women-owned companies, which is about 35%.


“What we ask our customers to do for us — we should be doing the same thing. I am proud to tell you that we track our spend with minority- and women-owned companies,” she said.


Hill — who has operated his company for more than 50 years — said relationships have helped to sustain his organization and advised other diverse suppliers to focus on them.


“Relationships will make the difference in your success or failure because they will always allow you to tell your story both to your customers and employees,” he said. “It is relationships that give people confidence. That’s an investment you can never ever lose.” 


CPO panel

Another key feature of BDR summits is a discussion with chief procurement officers at BDR member companies, each year addressing a topic impacting corporate supply chains.


David O’Brien, Exelon Corp.’s senior vice president and chief supply officer, led a talk about achieving sustainable impact within supply chains. The panelists were Ric Schneider, chief procurement officer, Abbott Laboratories Inc.; Peter Van Allsburg, vice president, sourcing and procurement services, JPMorgan Chase & Co.; and Susanna Webber, senior vice president, global supplier management group and global workplace enterprise services and chief procurement officer at Merck & Co. The speakers described how they engage stakeholders on supplier diversity across their corporate enterprises.


O’Brien noted that corporations do well when they create visible, consistent sponsorship around diverse suppliers, adding that he is seeing a “natural momentum” today that is creating greater linkages of supplier diversity with overall corporate strategy.


Schneider said Abbott’s leadership team, led by its CEO, is integral to the process of setting targets across the company’s portfolio of businesses “so that people truly are working in the same direction.” 


He added, “It’s about everybody understanding the why, and that the why we are doing this isn’t about spreading our spend across various organizations. The why is the impact that spend has and being able to measure that impact.” 


Webber said Merck devises strategies to foster collaboration and what she described as “true buy-in” from leaders and employees across its global enterprise. She noted that Merck instituted organizational changes over the past year to integrate supplier diversity and economic inclusion into the company’s broader global DEI efforts.


Van Allsburg said it is important for JPMorgan Chase to understand what the supply chains of diverse suppliers look like so it can know how to better support those suppliers, such as whom suppliers themselves buy from. Such a focus leads to “open conversation” with its base of diverse suppliers, he said. 


Other summit presentations included officials from the Obama Foundation speaking about how they are employing practices of supplier diversity in building and developing The Obama Presidential Center in Chicago.


During the summit, BDR inducted a record-breaking seven new member companies into the organization. (See related story on Page 72). The 2023 inductees are: Abbott, Amazon, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Caterpillar, Citigroup, Duke Energy and ExxonMobil — bringing the number of BDR member companies to 39.


In closing out the summit, Patterson announced that the 2024 BDR Summit will be co-hosted by member companies Meta Platforms Inc. and Google from their corporate campuses in Silicon Valley in California.


To learn more about BDR, visit


Billion Dollar Roundtable Inc. BDR Best Practices Summit Game On: Moving Global Supplier Diversity Beyond Spend Sharon Patterson BDR 2023 Global Economic Impact Report Sharon Castillo SB Services Inc. Walmart Amazon ExxonMobil Apple CVS Health Google U.S. Fortune 500 Donald R. Cravins Jr. U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency MBDA Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Bob Kirby CDW Corp. Shelley Steward Jr. Janice Bryant Howroyd The Act 1 Group Inc George Hill Diversified Chemical Technologies Inc. Rosa Santana Santana Group Doug Crawley Staffing Synergies Inc CPO Panel David O’Brien Exelon Corp. Ric Schneider Abbott Laboratories Inc. Peter Van Allsburg JPMorgan Chase & Co. Susanna Webber Merck & Co Abbott Amazon Bristol-Myers Squibb Caterpillar Citigroup Meta Platforms Inc.

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