The success of CBRE's global supplier diversity includes forming strategic alliances

By Monica Stavish Skaggs


CBRE Group Inc. is working to create a more equitable future for all by partnering with diverse businesses to provide services to the workspaces and buildings it occupies and manages for clients.


As the world’s largest manager of commercial property, CBRE is well-positioned to influence change by giving more opportunities for women- and minority-owned businesses to furnish goods and services for the company’s vast supply chain.


CBRE’s supplier diversity program

In 2021, CBRE pledged to spend at least $1 billion with diverse suppliers and increase that amount to at least $3 billion in five years. To drive progress toward this pledge, the company formalized its supplier diversity program and invested resources to support it.


Through the supplier diversity program, CBRE engages and partners with businesses that are certified as owned by under-represented groups, including minorities, Indigenous people, women, veterans, LGBTQ+ and individuals with disabilities.


“Our program is founded on integrating supplier diversity in our purchasing decisions throughout our business,” said Rona Fourté, vice president, CBRE global supplier diversity. “Our people are actually putting the program into practice. They are accountable to report on their diverse spend. We have a comprehensive dashboard that procurement leaders can use to assess program performance. Updated monthly, the dashboard illustrates the continued progress we are making.”


CBRE helps diverse businesses find opportunities in several ways. The program provides formal supplier development and mentoring to strengthen promising diverse companies. CBRE also integrates diverse suppliers into its procurement sourcing process and offers direct engagement opportunities with its own customers for subcontracted products and services.


The company also partners with organizations that identify and work with certified diverse suppliers, including Minority Supplier Development UK, National Minority Supplier Development Council Inc., National Veterans Business Development Council, Supply Nation, WEConnect and Women’s Business Enterprise National Council. Fourté said these relationships are vital to building a diverse supplier community.


“Sustaining ongoing relationships is important to running a business,” she said. “You create relationships and, through those connections, you’re able to bring diverse businesses together. Sometimes, it may even make sense to team up a diverse supplier with a nondiverse supplier. We know those companies can work together, and we monitor and track the strategic alliance.”


In fall 2022, CBRE sponsored its first Supplier Diversity Summit for 1,200 participants in the United States and Canada. The virtual event provided networking opportunities, learning sessions and access to various business opportunities. CBRE plans to expand the geographic reach of the event to Europe, the Middle East and Africa in 2023.


“CBRE services more than 95% of the Fortune 100 companies in the world, so we know there is a strong demand for working with more diverse suppliers. We are able to go to market with a supplier diversity program that has an established track record — we know what success looks like for CBRE and our diverse suppliers,” Fourté said.



Why is supplier diversity important?

Small businesses fuel the U.S. economy. They account for 99.9% of all businesses (Forbes).  Additionally, U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy reports % of ownership by demographic in 2017 as follows:

• 37.6% women

• 12.7% Hispanic American

• 9.9% African American

• 8.1% Asian American


Supplier diversity programs were developed to provide diverse suppliers with the same opportunities as nondiverse suppliers. This advocacy can drive success and help distribute wealth more equitably.


“When we think about the demographics of the world, not just the U.S., we recognize that diversity is part of our global fabric,” Fourté said. “The good news is we’re making progress. There is more intentionality about diversity, more discussion about the disparity in underrepresented communities and more visibility of the topic.”


Fourté joined CBRE in March 2020 and has been engaged in supplier diversity for more than two decades. She brings extensive knowledge to CBRE about community engagement, supplier diversity programming, diversity and inclusion education, and microinequity, aggressions and unconscious bias training.


Summing up her passion for helping diverse businesses achieve their goals, Fourté said, “When you find something you love, it’s not work anymore. I embrace opportunities to talk about supplier diversity.”


CBRE is a Fortune 500 and S&P 500 company with about 115,000 employees who serve clients in more than 100 countries. With headquarters in Dallas, Texas, it is the world’s largest commercial real estate services and investment firm. Services include property management, investment management, transaction and project management, appraisal and valuation, and mortgage services.


For more information about CBRE’s Supplier Diversity Program, email [email protected].


CBRE Group Inc. Rona Fourté CBRE commercial property supplier diversity minority-owned businesses women-owned businesses wbe

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