CEO’s Desk: Driving Corporate Supplier Diversity: One Spend Category at a Time


Author: ConnXus Founder and CEO Rod Robinson


When we launched ConnXus 5 years ago this month, we had no products, no customers, no supplier database to speak of, and two employees, including yours truly.

Today, we have more than a dozen employees, and our growing list of enterprise customers include some of the most recognized corporate brands on the planet. ConnXus provides a suite of technology-enabled solutions that help them better manage their supplier relationships as well as collect & manage data, track, monitor and report diversity spend activity at multiple levels of the supply chain.

The growth of our enterprise SaaS (software-as-a-service) business model has led to us building a database of nearly 2 million of the approximately 15 million diverse businesses in the United States.

But, how useful is it to have information on 2 million diverse suppliers when most major corporations only have 5,000 – 10,000 total active suppliers at any time?

This is when a new a way thinking can create change. Through our work, we’ve learned more about the many great diverse suppliers that serve our enterprise customers. Those suppliers are capable of real growth by serving even more of our customers.

Growing a Diverse Supplier Base: Pick a Category

One of our enterprise customers recently launched an initiative to increase diversity spend across numerous professional services categories including Information Technology (IT), a category worth tens of millions in annual spend. They realized that of the nearly 100 IT firms they were doing business with, only 5 were diverse.

With a database of nearly 2 million diverse suppliers across hundreds of spend categories, our IT category consists of 12 subcategories, including staff augmentation, consulting, software, information management and data services.

A quick search of the ConnXus database revealed a total 1,035 diverse IT providers nationally. After applying search filters based on our customer’s requirements, we ultimately identified nearly 300 firms qualified to do business with this specific customer, as well as for several others with similar requirements.

Our customer is now positioned to more competitively bid out IT projects to a broader set suppliers. That will ultimately lead to increased diversity spend, higher quality and lower cost.

It was truly gratifying to later learn that our enterprise customer has already started to engage with a handful of these firms regarding future opportunities. We look forward to replicating this across other high value categories. As I reflect back to the beginning of ConnXus, such value creating “ConnXions” was always the ultimate goal.

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