by Ray Hayes

This year, Major League Baseball (MLB) hosted the 20th anniversary of its Supplier Diversity Summit and Diverse Business Partners program during its Winter Meeting schedule in Las Vegas, Nevada.  The Summit was launched in 1998 in effort to, “…cultivate new and existing partnerships with minority and female-owned businesses by increasing opportunities for them to participate in the procurement activities of MLB.”

Although the MLB gets tons of slack for its struggle to attract a younger audience , its Supplier Diversity program has set its own history as the longest running supplier diversity program of the four major US sports. Since its inception, the program has spent more than $1.5 billion with diverse businesses and the MLB was honored by the New York and New Jersey Minority Supplier Development Council as one the top 50 US corporations for multicultural business. The NYNJSDC also awarded the League the 2018 National Corporation of the Year.

Take that you naysayers.

Corey Smith, Senior Director of Supplier Diversity and Strategic Sourcing at MLB, recently spoke about the MLB Supplier Diversity program and its recent acknowledgements. “The reality is that we’ve been able to save money by utilizing diverse businesses to provide goods and services for us. In an ideal world, our costs are actually decreasing while we’re increasing our spending with diverse businesses.”

This year’s Summit played host to more than 100 suppliers who cover industries from from promotion products to food services. Each supplier was selected based on the needs and the financial opportunities for the 30 MLB clubs for next season and beyond. Additionally, as the Summit took place so did the MLB’s version of ABC’s Shark Tank. 

Smith spoke about the benefits of the workshops and the speed round suppliers had the opportunity to meet clubs face to face over a three hour period, “That’s exciting because over time you get to see how they actually improve on how they sell their company from the time they sat down at the first table to the last.”