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 billiondollarroundtable.org.
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.
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
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
“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.”
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
“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
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
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,
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.