Cheryl Harris, the head of business diversity and senior vice president, sourcing and procurement at Allstate Corp., shared her advice for companies to get more diverse suppliers and for these suppliers on how to win more contracts.

For companies that want to increase the diversity of supplier base, Harris said they need to understand what they are spending their money on and how they want to make an impact. There are several ways to assess impact. One way is by measuring direct spending with certified and non-certified diverse suppliers. Companies can make a difference by understanding their corporate spending and working with more diverse suppliers.

Another way is analyzing Tier 2 spending, which is about how non-diverse suppliers contract with diverse suppliers. As an example, Allstate encourages large and medium-sized majority-owned companies to create own supplier diversity programs. It helps ensure supplier diversity across the supply chain and address wealth disparities.

For diverse suppliers that want to win more contracts, Harris advised them to study the organization they are prospecting. It is crucial to understand the corporate culture and priorities of the prospect and how they choose their suppliers. Diverse suppliers should also be prepared to explain why they want to do business with the prospect and what delineates them from other diverse firms of any other company.

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