Share Your Story 1st Place Winner: netlogx

Nine diverse suppliers submitted their supplier diversity stories in the first-ever ConnXus Share Your Story blog campaign.  Three judges determined three winners based off the suppliers’ history with supplier diversity, community impact and relationship with other diverse suppliers in their own business. This year’s judges included Tamara Lang, Program Manager for Women Excel Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber; Sheila Mixon, Senior VP of Business Development for Greater Cincinnati Urban League and Executive Director of ORV-WBE; Debra Quade, Kellogg’s Manager of Supplier Diversity. 

netlogx, an information risk management service provider based in Indianapolis, IN, is the first place winner of the ConnXus Share Your Story blog campaign.

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Once upon a time, a determined young lady traveled across the pond from England to America seeking employment and a grand adventure. As this story unfolds, months slip into years and her new-found city, friends and work feel like home. She stays, and the story of netlogx begins.

Through the nearly 18 years since netlogx first opened its doors, CEO, Audrey Taylor has remained constant in her commitment to fostering a culture of diversity and inclusion. As a direct reflection, she and the team embrace the spirit of diversity in the workplace and through our supplier diversity program, Diverse by Design, which is reflected in our core values and position of our leadership. Our goal is to provide a culture of excellence and inclusion that is demonstrated with our commitment to all employees. We believe that an inclusive culture is one that recognizes and respects differences and actively seeks participation with diverse suppliers which delivers value and drives innovation for our clients.

As diversity is woven into the very fabric of the organization, leadership serves as strong advocates at every level. netlogx has created a Diverse by Design committee that is fully committed and supportive of initiatives which include increased participation in all facets of the company’s goals and planning, ongoing education and strategic community involvement. This is reflected in our senior management which is 88% diverse and includes minorities and women. Additionally, over 50 % of our team members are women.

Diverse suppliers are integral to our 360 degree approach to participation. netlogx purchases over 60% of our goods and services from minority and women-owned firms. We have also developed processes to identify and partner with diverse companies such as our self on potential business opportunities in an effort to fuel economic growth and build long-lasting partnerships.

As a direct result of our supplier diversity registration efforts we secured a contract with a public utility company. We have engaged and continue to seek utilization of MWVBEs on contracts as well as having served as a WBE on several contracts. Not only is it the right thing to do but we have also seen the economic benefit.

Strengthening relationships with Minority, Women and Veteran-owned businesses (XBEs) in the community through promotion and active participation with organizations and companies that strive to maximize opportunities for XBEs has resulted in countless and unimaginable gifts. Our involvement with organizations such as NAWBO, WBENC, MNSDC, city and state programs and company supplier diversity programs has increased awareness and served to elevate our partners, diverse companies and all of those squarely committed to supplier diversity.

In May 2015, netlogx was selected as a Top 5 finalist in the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) National’s “No Small Thing” video contest highlighting the one thing that’s contributed most to their business success. The video conveys our story and how diversity has helped build netlogx into a successful and caring firm that is Diverse by Design. Watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NszoenzRWqM

Why You Need to Make Room in Your Budget for Supplier Diversity

 

For many busy supply-chain and procurement leaders, supplier diversity falls near the bottom of the list when budget time rolls around. That’s partly because supplier diversity programs may seem more like a regulatory requirement or a corporate social responsibility than a genuine business opportunity.

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This misguided perception is rooted in three facts about supplier diversity in the United States:

  1. The federal government is still the single largest customer for minority- and women-owned suppliers and vendors.
  2. State and local governments generally require that a certain amount or percentage of their budgets must be spent with minority- and women-owned businesses.
  3. Many corporations and other organizations – especially those with large government contracts – must also comply with similar requirements.

Given all the many government requirements and regulations every company must follow, there’s more to the story than simple compliance. Want to know the real reason why are more and more top corporations investing so heavily in supplier diversity? The answer is simple – a more diverse and inclusive supply chain is helping them to grow and expand.

Not Easy, But Worth the Effort

For public- and private-sector procurement managers, many of whom are also coping with budget cuts, meeting all these layers of diversity requirements can be challenging. To fulfill their fiscal and diversity obligations, managers need not only organizational buy-in, but also strong procurement processes that help support a more diverse supply chain.

But does a business case exist for establishing programs that actively recruit qualified minority- and women-owned suppliers? An increasing number of supply-chain thought leaders say yes. Manufacturers and other organizations with robust supplier diversity programs are benefitting from:

  • Stronger relationships with their supply base,
  • New business opportunities, and
  • A more agile supply chain.

Consider this statistic: The combined “buying power” of African American, Hispanic, and Asian American-owned businesses is now about $3 trillion dollars. With the multicultural population experiencing such amazing growth, it’s no wonder more and more businesses are embracing supplier diversity to stay competitive.

Good Times, Bad Times

Any procurement manager who has experienced a few business cycles understands that it can be tough to keep diversity in mind during periods of economic downturn or uncertainty. But it can be done. For example, a few years back Cargill had to cull back its select suppliers from 17 to 12 to improve efficiency. Because the giant manufacturer made it a strategic priority not to eliminate suppliers from traditionally underrepresented groups, no Black-, Latino- or women-owned businesses were cut in the process.

In fact, “Having diverse and inclusive perspectives and practices in our organization will be even more crucial in the face of unprecedented economic challenges,” says Pat Hemingway Hall, president and CEO of HCSC. “To be as innovative as possible, we must capitalize on the talents and skills of all of our employees. At the same time, we need to continue to anticipate and respond effectively to the needs of our increasingly diverse customer base who will be facing their own unique challenges during this difficult time.”

Diversity as a New Business Generator

Executives at Milwaukee-based Johnson Controls Inc. say they can directly trace more than $6 billion worth of business to its commitment to supplier diversity. A Tier 1 supplier to General Motors and other automakers for years, the company’s notable focus on diversity helped the company gain business from GM in the late 1990s.

To differentiate itself, Johnson Controls approached GM and offered to form a joint venture with a minority-owned firm to help GM meet its minority-produced content targets. Now known as Bridgewater Interiors LLC, this joint venture has expanded over the years to supply components to several other major carmakers.

Smaller Can Be Better

Like many other defense contractors to the federal government, Lockheed Martin must search for certified minority-owned or small businesses to provide a percentage of its content. The federal government’s definition of a minority-owned business includes small businesses and companies owned by veterans or service-disabled veteran.

This has proven to be a competitive advantage rather than a handicap, because smaller companies are often more agile and flexible than their larger competitors. “What these small businesses do is really bring innovation to our corporation in a much faster method to market than a real large corporation like Lockheed Martin,” said Nancy Deskins, Lockheed Martin’s director of corporate agreements and supplier diversity.

There is also huge untapped potential in reaching out to women-owned suppliers. While women control a tremendous amount of purchasing power worldwide, women-owned vendors typically represent less than 1% of sales to large multinationals.

Corporations interested in partnering with women-owned businesses can find potential leads through WEConnect International, a nonprofit organization that collaborates with various international agencies, including The World Bank Group and the U.S. State Department, to identify and certify women-owned businesses globally.

Still think you can’t afford to build a world-class supplier diversity program into your annual budget? It’s high time to rethink your priorities – and calculate the potential benefits of greater inclusion.


STAY TUNED! Next time, we’ll show you how supplier diversity can help your company navigate today’s competitive landscape.

 

Links:

http://www.sdcexec.com/article/10246927/time-to-get-started-with-supplier-diversity

http://www.diversityinc.com/supplier-diversity/a-win-win-companies-thrive-communities-get-a-boost-with-supplier-diversity/

http://www.industryweek.com/leadership/business-case-supply-chain-diversity

http://weconnectinternational.org/en/

WHY SUPPLIER DIVERSITY SHOULD TOP YOUR TO-DO LIST

 

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Did you make any New Year’s resolutions this January? Okay, how many of those commitments have already fallen by the wayside? Here are some important reasons you shouldn’t let implementing a diverse supply chain program become one of those “should have, could have, didn’t” items on this year’s to-do list.

While supplier diversity (SD) is just one element of modern supply chain planning, it’s becoming increasingly important to private companies, government agencies, and not-for-profits alike. “Supplier diversity” means a strong commitment to creating and maintaining a diverse supply chain that ensures the inclusion of diverse groups in their procurement plans, including women- and minority-owned businesses.

MORE THAN QUOTAS

It’s a mistake to think of supplier diversity as just a quota system or a social program designed to help selected social groups, while adding minimal value to your supply chain. In fact, a commitment to meaningful SD can give your organization a measurable competitive advantage in several ways:

  • Greater return on investment (ROI). A major study by the Atlanta-based Hackett Group showed actual financial benefits from business relationships with diverse suppliers. Based on a study of 50 companies from both the service and manufacturing sectors, the research demonstrated that companies with a strong SD focus generated a 133% greater procurement ROI than the average comparable business, driving an additional $3.6 million to their company’s bottom line.
  • Lower operating costs and higher profits. These same companies spent an average of 20% less on their buying operations, and reported procurement staffing levels less than half of similar companies without SD programs. The statistics also showed that companies who actively pursue a diverse supply chain are more profitable than companies who don’t.
  • Other benefits. A strong commitment to supplier diversity can also:
    • Promote innovation by introducing new products, services, and solutions
    • Expand your range of procurement channels for goods and services
    • Drive increased competition (on price and service) between current and potential vendors
    • Open up new opportunities for business expansion by highlighting new consumer needs driven by shifting demographic trends
    • Display your organization’s commitment to doing business in multicultural markets with rapidly growing consumer groups

REAPING THE REWARDS

Progressive-thinking companies are leading the way in a multicultural marketplace by finding creative new ways to incorporate supplier diversity into their business processes. Two of these have developed particularly strong relationships with minority business owners — and are enjoying the benefits.

  • In 2007 alone, Wal-Mart spent more than $3.9 billion with nearly 2,000 minority-owned suppliers, using community outreach to help develop their network. As Hispanic businesses scale up, Wal-Mart is using them to meet customer needs. For example, Ruiz Foods, the largest Mexican frozen food company in the United States, is one of Wal-Mart’s largest domestic product suppliers.
  • IBM was the first IT company to pass the $1-billion mark with minority suppliers, spending $2.3 billion with diverse companies in business services, facility management, travel, and technical subcontracting in 2007.

Many companies and organizations set out to implement a diverse supplier group with no real expectations of a tangible return on investment. They may even anticipate increased costs and a greater administrative burden.

The pleasant surprise is that a robust SD program doesn’t have to cost more … and can bring unexpected business benefits that help your bottom line.

DOWNLOAD THIS BLOG IN PRINTABLE PDF FORMAT


STAY TUNED! In the next installment, we’ll explore some simple guidelines that can help you navigate today’s changing competitive landscape with the aid of supplier diversity.

Contact sales@connxus.com for more information on ConnXus products or to schedule a demo.

Links:

Staff Member Spotlight: Jennifer O’Neal-Douga

 

ConnXus Senior Account Development Manager, Jennifer O’Neal-Douga, joined the team in July of 2015.

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“What motivates me to jump out of bed every morning is the thrill of seeing what surprises the day has in store for me and the interesting problems I will solve at ConnXus,” says Jennifer.

In the fairly young business environment at ConnXus, Jennifer’s role is especially crucial to maintain a clear plan for client onboarding and engagement. Her top three responsibilities as ConnXus Senior Account Development Manager include new client onboarding, project management and strategic business growth.

The entrepreneurial and family friendly company culture at ConnXus is what drew Jennifer to work at the Mason, Ohio office. When asked what song best describes the ConnXus work environment, she responded with “Eye of the Tiger,” by Survivor.

When she’s not working, Jennifer enjoys spending her time outside hiking—her favorite local trails are at Winton Woods and Miami Whitewater.

With over 15 years of accomplished leadership experience in the financial, retail and insurance industries, Jennifer brings exceptional strategic planning and operations management skills to the ConnXus team.

Jennifer obtained her bachelor of arts (BA) in history from Georgetown University, and her masters of business administration (MBA) from Xavier University. 

SUPPLIER DIVERSITY CAN HELP YOU NAVIGATE TODAY’S CHANGING LANDSCAPE

In the first blog post of this series, we defined supplier diversity (SD) as “a proactive procurement program that encourages the purchase of goods and services from businesses owned by a diverse cross-section of different groups of people, including (but not limited to) minorities, women, the disabled, the LGBT community, and veterans.”

Faced with changing demographics and business growth rates, organizations must learn how to incorporate minority employees, customers, and suppliers into their business processes if they want to gain and maintain a long-term competitive edge. This time, we’ll examine some of the challenges and opportunities brought about by large-scale trends that have an impact on every business or nonprofit, including:

  • Rapid technological innovation,
  • Continuing globalization of the supply chain, and
  • The record level of mergers & acquisitions.

Technology & Innovation

No matter the size of your organization, the Internet and information technology can provide you with the tools you need to identify and connect with diverse suppliers. An easy starting place is to post a highly visible link on your website providing information about your supplier diversity program.

A strong Internet presence can help you achieve supplier diversity goals by enabling your suppliers to register, certify, and submit their proposals online. Companies and other organizations can actively recruit diverse suppliers by:

  • Advertising in supplier diversity publications such as Minority Business News, Diversity Monitor, and Diversity Inc.,
  • Using their websites to attract minority suppliers, and
  • Making use of intermediary organizations (like ConnXus) to identify qualified, certified minority suppliers.

Supply Chain Globalization

In today’s transnational business environment, global supply chains are inevitably affected by adverse events that may take place thousands of miles away. For example, when Thailand recently suffered widespread flooding, many of its computer disk-drive manufacturers were hit hard after key suppliers were forced to shut down. These companies urgently needed to reroute work to other suppliers to regain production stability.

Because these supply disruptions are difficult to manage and require flexibility, manufacturers in particular need to find ways to manage multiple suppliers worldwide quickly and effectively. By using technology-based systems to provide accurate, real-time data on the entire global supply chain, companies can collaborate and communicate with all their suppliers at once.

This improved ability to prevent or minimize supply-chain disruptions has a direct, positive impact on the bottom line, by:

Minimizing risk of loss,

Preventing delays orders and deliveries to customers, and

Maintaining quality control.

The M&A Boom

Today’s record level of mergers and acquisitions (M&As) reflects the widespread belief that the combining similar business entities should produce improved performance and revenues through greater efficiency and economies of scale. Unfortunately, most M&As don’t deliver on that promise. Studies reveal that up to 60% of mergers actually hurt the overall performance of the combined firm, with fewer than 25% percent of all acquisitions reaching their strategic objectives.

One reason for this poor track record is that many companies fail to implement an effective, efficient consolidated supply chain after the merger. To identify redundancies and possible synergies, companies should invest in a thorough post-merger supply chain assessment. This review should cover:

  • The current organizational structure,
  • Opportunities for improvement, and
  • Recommendations for consolidating systems and processes to increase efficiencies and avoid disruptions.

We also recommend creating a unified database that integrates transactional data from all “legacy” supply-chain systems. Modern database programs provide a wide range of simple tools designed to coordinate and interweave formerly disconnected transaction systems.

The connections between your organizations’ diverse supplier programs and these macro-level trends may not be immediately obvious, but they are real. Some companies have already mastered the art of using SD programs to help them navigate successfully in today’s complex competitive environment. With the aid of a proactive, consolidated supplier diversity program, you too can find a path to success in today’s business landscape.


STAY TUNED! In the next post, we’ll discuss more reasons why supplier diversity really matters.

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Cincinnati Business Courier Names ConnXus as a “Startup to Watch in 2016”

By: Bruce Crippen, Cincinnati Business Courier 

Cincinnati’s startup scene continues to grow.

In 2015, we saw tens of millions of dollars in investment, a $100 million acquisition and the #StartupCincy community knit closer together. If this momentum continues, 2016 could shape up to be a big year as well. Here are some of the startups the Courier believes are worth keeping an eye on in the new year:

Select for Cincinnati Business Courier article.

Ep2S Compensation Solutions

Supplier Spotlight: EP2S Compensation Solutions

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Eugene Epps, a certified compensations professional, made the ultimate decision to embark on a new journey after 30 years of experience in the corporate human resources industry. Today he is the founder and managing partner of 11-year old EP2S Compensation Solutions, LLC, a minority-owned business and ConnXus+ supplier based in Houston, TX.

Hands down, HR rewards and benefits’ programs should not decrease a company’s bottom-line—instead, HR programs should, “provide a positive impact and return on the organization’s HR dollar, as well as encourage career development that benefits the company and its employees,” explains Epps.

Since its founding in 2004, EP2S Compensation Solutions, prides itself on developing employee pay, retirement and healthcare programs that produce maximum return-on-investment (ROI) for both the company and employees. The consulting firm is also known for developing and implementing sound reward programs that support a company’s strategic business and HR objectives.

For example, today’s employer-sponsored health insurance plans (fully insured or self-insured) annually cost a company and its employees thousands or millions of dollars, while producing a negative impact and return on the organization’s healthcare dollar, cash-flow, operations and bottom-line. EP2S Compensation Solutions has recently launched a new and innovative healthcare pay program called EP2S Healthcare Benefit Rewards. This new “Program” is designed to annually save a company and its employees thousands to millions of dollars while producing a positive impact and return on the organization’s healthcare dollar, cash-flow, operations and bottom-line.

To learn more about the new healthcare pay program, Epps has published the book EP2S Health Care Benefit Rewards Program that can be ordered on line by visiting www.ep2s.net.

Eugene Epps Supplier SpotlightWhen asked about the firm’s major milestones in its 11-years of operation, Epps responded, “I am most proud of the development and implementation of our revolutionary job evaluation system—EP2S Broadbanding. The system was developed on behalf of a client’s need to simplify and streamline its organization as well as the job writing and evaluation process, all while reducing labor costs.” Epps has a book published on the EP2S Broadbanding job evaluation system.

Additionally, the firm developed and implemented an innovative pay program for Kinder Morgan’s non-exempt field operations employees. This new program simplified their client, Kinder Morgan’s, ability to train, classify and offer reward programs for their non-exempt field employees. Also among EP2S Compensation Solutions clients are Occidental Petroleum Corporation, Dow Corning–Settlement Facility Trust and Spectra Energy.

Epps, a member of the National Association of African Americans in Human Resources (NAAAHR), has been a ConnXus+ supplier for one year and on Wednesday, November 18.

Supplier Spotlight: The Deciding Factor

 

Karen Meyers Holzer, President of The Deciding Factor, invited ConnXus into their Mason office to learn the logic behind the “Marketing That Makes up Minds.” The 13- year old women-owned integrated marketing firm, based in Mason, Ohio, is a ConnXus+ and Marketplace member. The company has been a friend and supporter of ConnXus since its launch in 2010.

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Breaking down the strategy-based marketing differentiator of The Deciding Factor, Holzer explains, “What makes us different from other firms is that we always start with a strategy. First we ask clients: What are you trying to achieve? What marketing have you done in the past? What are your business goals, and how are you going to track it? From this initial assessment, we begin to fabricate our strategic marketing efforts in line with those goals.”

In other words, it’s not just creating a brochure and hoping it gains traction. It’s asking who the audience is, where the strategy will be utilized and the ROI the clients will reap. It’s about being a smart marketer. Marketing efforts should align with business goals, whether you are a small, mid-sized or large company.

The integrated marketing firm works in B2B and B2C website development, digital content management, social media and e-marketing as well as traditional marketing, such as billboard advertising, and increasingly more public relations.

Meredith Raffel, Executive Director of The Arts Alliance in Mason remarks on the transformation her company gained from The Deciding Factor marketing, “The slippery slope of pro-bono is a dance. It’s a marriage of giving and receiving. But what The Deciding Factor gave to The Arts Alliance was a voice. Never strong armed into any idea, The Deciding Factor walked us through this process of growth and change. They gave us the chance to realize ‘what speaks to us’ about the future of our organization.”

Creating that emotional connection with a brand is the key to success. Humans make decisions intellectually and emotionally. Whether you are buying a coffee cup or a new car, you do your research and emotionally invest.

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Holzer enlightens us further, stating, “60% of your buying decision is made online before you even call to ask questions or go into the store,” explaining why it is absolutely crucial to have an emotional hook that the competing product/service lacks. Whether you recognize it or not, Product A and Product B are probably very similar in quality and price, so there has to be something else that makes up their mind. And that’s the brand. As humans we experience such things on multiple levels.

Explaining the connection between a brand and emotion, Holzer says, “What I love is watching a company go from being a marketing skeptic and what we can show them is that marketing doesn’t have to be scary, it is a tool for them. We can show them through analytics and metrics that their customers are engaging with their brand.”

As a ConnXus Marketplace partner, The Deciding Factor offers exclusive marketing pricing for ConnXus+ members. The firm is currently working with a ConnXus+ member to revamp their logistics marketing efforts. As a startup, the young company is literally “on the road” expanding its network and services. The Deciding Factor is building up its marketing efforts to strengthen its brand, logo development and webpage design.

The firm has taken full advantage of their ConnXus+ membership, having responded to several RFQ and RFP opportunities and presenting their expertise in the ConnXus Webinar Series, not once but two times. After the first webinar presentation, 15 participants reached out to The Deciding Factor requesting more information about their marketing strategies and services.

In addition to digital marketing and website development, the integrated marketing firm specializes in crisis communication and implementation plans. As the saying goes, smart public relations means planning for the worst and hoping for the best. Crisis communication plans, Holzer explains, “prepare you for an incident that is handled carefully and hopefully diffuses before turning into a drawn-out crisis. In today’s social media arena, crises blow up exponentially faster than they would have even five years ago.”

Especially for manufacturing companies, the idea that something hazardous will happen due to a malfunction of heavy equipment or welding torch accident, means a crisis communication plan is vital for the company’s survival.

Holzer notes that consistent internal communication absolutely must be coherent before being publicly disseminated, whether it’s a response to a crisis or the launch of a new product.

Sensitive to the fact that startup companies are still trying to pave their own road, the firm realizes that marketing efforts are still in the emerging phase, and often times gets put on the back burner. Smaller suppliers also have a rational fear of contracting with big companies and ConnXus bridges that gap for people. The Deciding Factor helps startups and small companies phase in different aspects of marketing materials.