Supplier Diversity Innovation Track: From Best to Next Practices


Daryl Hammett, ConnXus COO

“Our leaders must be willing to have the conversation to reset the expectation…Let’s raise the bar on increasing Tier 2, 3 and 4 supply chain spend.” – ConnXus COO, Daryl Hammett

Supplier diversity innovation means moving past “best practices” toward the future, or what ConnXus refers to as“next practices.” This means moving beyond meeting reporting deadlines to challenging the status quo and increasing spend not only in Tier 2, but in Tier 3 and Tier 4.

The future of supplier diversity is rerouting mandatory reporting requirements by challenging the status quo: Increasing multi-tiered spend, building relationships with local businesses and reflecting the economy through key performance indicators.

As procurement officers, supplier diversity and supply chain managers, let’s go beyond basic tracking and reporting spend to measuring the economic impacts of diverse hiring and engaging with local business.

In order to reach this heightened level of innovation in the supplier diversity arena, three key changes need to be addressed:

Increase Engagement with Suppliers

Increased enterprise engagement with Tier 2 and Tier 3 suppliers will diversify the supply chain and solidify future business opportunities. By registering suppliers in a portal database, supplier relations, qualifications and specific data are readily accessibly to maintain and prospect impending business relations. Place the focus on building mutually-beneficial, long-lasting relationships with suppliers.

Impact Local Businesses

Engaging with not only prime suppliers, but also Tier 2 and Tier 3 suppliers gives the enterprise company more visibility, opening up windows for prospective primes in the future. Local vendors will reduce transportation costs, and in turn, corporations are fueling and mirroring inclusive economic activity.

Revamp KPI’s

Key performance indicators, or KPI’s, should already be marked, managed and measured on a tight schedule. Setting goals to track each point of direct and indirect spend in the supply chain will only enhance and boost supplier diversity initiatives. Measure not only the percentage of spend dedicated toward diverse suppliers, but also set goals for increasing the percentage of spend over the next five and ten years, while enhancing supplier development and efficiency.

Tweaking these supplier diversity “next practices” will stimulate more diverse supply chains and fuller reports of indirect and direct multi-tier spend, while increasing corporate comprehension of the shift in the local economy.

Let’s not lose sight of the importance of reporting tiered spend, but begin to aggregate our focus on spend that echoes the economy–ultimately creating a more robust supply chain, reducing costs, and fueling the local economy and inclusion efforts–a win-win for both the enterprise sector and the vendors. Let’s never forget, suppliers are and can be customers.

ConnXus Named one of Nation’s Best Supplier Diversity Programs



Hispanic Network Magazine has named ConnXus one of the best Supplier Diversity Programs in the nation. Our company, based in Mason, Ohio, was included in the 2015 Hispanic Network Magazine “Best of the Best” Summer award series.

“These nonbiased studies are valuable resources for jobseekers, business owners, students, consumers, senior management, business associations, employment agencies and consumer groups,” according to Hispanic Network Magazine.

As ConnXus celebrates it’s Fifth Year in business, the staff is proud to be named to this prestigious list, which includes a host of respected companies, including The Coca-Cola Company, CVSHealth, Ernst & Young, LLP, Hilton Worldwide, Lockheed Martin and Verizon Communications Inc.

ConnXus received the same award in 2012. You can read the entire Best of the Best list here.

ConnXus takes home 2015 National BDPA Awards


The team at ConnXus is proud to announce recognition for its Supplier Diversity management platform from the National BDPA.

BDPA is an organization with a diverse membership of professionals and students at all levels in the fields of information technology, computer science and related S.T.E.M fields. Members are actively engaged in serving the community through outreach and charting the future of the IT industry.

The BDPA Motto is: “Advancing Careers From The Classroom To The Boardroom.”

We appreciate the awards and, as a minority owned company in this space, we continue to strive to make Supplier Diversity initiatives more accountable, efficient and successful.

BDPA awards include :

  • The 2015 Earl Pace Beacon Award for Outstanding Technical Contribution.
  • Individual Epsilon Award for Outstanding Technical Contribution: Rod Robinson

Find out more about the ConnXus platform here.



Reshoring Opens Opportunities for Diverse Suppliers


Rosemary Coates, Founder of Blue Silk Consulting (WBE) and The Reshoring Institute, recently shared insightful information with ConnXus regarding reshoring initiatives and the opportunities it presents for diverse suppliers, including woman-owned, minority owned and veteran-owned businesses. Learn more about how The Reshoring Institute supports the diversification of US supply chains in this guest blog authored by Ms. Rosemary Coates.

A recent study by the Boston Consulting Group found that 54% of companies over $1 billion in revenue are reshoring their production now or at least considering it. Reshoring is the process of bringing manufacturing back to the US – the opposite of offshoring. While there are a lot of news articles and people talking about reshoring, there are very few resources to help companies through the process. The US Department of Commerce offers ACE, an analysis tool for evaluating your reshoring program, and there are other organizations doing some work in this area, but it is not enough for most companies to complete a Reshoring project.

To fill this gap, Blue Silk Consulting and the University of San Diego established The Reshoring Institute, a 501c3 Non-profit organization. The Reshoring Institute is organized under the umbrella of the University of San Diego Supply Chain Management Institute, to provide research and support for companies trying to bring manufacturing and services back to America. This research may include things like site comparisons, tax incentives available, science and math education available by area, marketing and PR and cost comparison development. The Reshoring Institute Directors oversee and guide this reshoring research and support work, using graduate student interns from the University.

The Reshoring Institute has a dual purpose:

  • To provide support and research for companies trying to reshore manufacturing to the US
  • To educate students about manufacturing in America

The University of San Diego was chosen for this collaboration because of its strong programs in global supply chain management, its proximity to Mexico and production that could return from there, availability of graduate-level interns and its very active Supply Chain Management Institute.

The ConnXus Connection

As companies reshore production, they must also rebuild their supply base in the US. During the past 25 years, production has moved offshore and supporting suppliers have followed. Whole industries such as furniture, apparel and footwear and plastics left in the 1990s and 2000s, but are now starting to come back. Rebuilding a supporting supply base is a non-trivial task and can easily take a year or more. This presents a grand opportunity for woman-owned businesses, small businesses and disadvantaged suppliers. The doors are open to new ideas and new suppliers.

To discover new Reshoring opportunities, suppliers should:

  • Be alert for news articles about companies that are reshoring
  • Stay in touch with local and state Economic Development organizations – these people are usually the first to know about new businesses in their area
  • Subscribe to the Reshoring Institute’s Quarterly Newsletter (
  • Visit the Reshoring Institute’s on-line free library of articles on Reshoring and other research

The future is bright with pathways to bringing manufacturing back to America and supporting these efforts with American suppliers.

About the Author

Ms. Coates is the Executive Director of the Reshoring Institute and the President of Blue Silk Consulting, a WBE Global Supply Chain consulting firm. She is a best-selling author of: 42 Rules for Sourcing and Manufacturing in China and 42 Rules for Superior Field Service and The Reshoring Guidebook. Ms. Coates lives in Silicon Valley and has worked with over 80 clients worldwide. She is also an Expert Witness for legal cases involving global supply chain matters. She is passionate about reshoring. 

2015 Year in Review



Top 5 Supplier Diversity Predictions for 2016


Authored by ConnXus CEO, Rod Robinson


Many supplier diversity trends that began in 2015 will gain traction as we enter 2016. Here are my top five supplier diversity predictions for 2016.

1. Increased focus on supplier diversity data accuracy. As the importance of supplier diversity continues to grow, more companies leverage it as a source of competitive advantage. Additionally, as increasing numbers of third-parties use the underlying data in decision-making—accuracy and reliability are critical. Just do a quick google search to see the numerous embarrassing and costly episodes associated with reporting erroneous diversity data.

2. Heightened focus on Tier 2 spend tracking & reporting. As I wrote in a previous post, many best practicing companies leverage technology applications to collect, track and analyze the relevant diversity spend associated with several of their prime suppliers. As the trend toward supplier consolidation continues, Tier 2 programs are a great way for large companies to foster the development of small and diverse suppliers who will become the primes of the future. Some companies, like P&G, are going as far as connecting key primes with top performing diverse suppliers to create value-added relationships that benefit both the supply and demand sides of the equation.

3. Supplier diversity will be more tightly aligned with procurement and supply chain. In many organizations, supplier diversity has historically been a disconnected bolt-on to procurement. However, as the demographics and dynamics of the business world shift—supplier diversity practices are also changing. Given the rapid growth of minority- and woman-owned businesses, representing over 70% of all U.S. businesses, the relationships and knowledge base of supplier diversity professionals will play a key role in the future sustainability of supply chains.

4. Diverse supplier relationship management processes will expand to broader supply chains. Supplier reliability, risk, transparency, validation… These are all buzz words being tossed around to emphasize the importance of effectively managing supplier relationships and supplier data. Many best practicing supplier diversity companies have captured relevant supplier qualification data on diverse suppliers for years via registration portals. However, many of these same companies are now realizing the benefit of having the same level of transparency for all suppliers.

5. Increased emphasis on innovation. As large corporations continue to reduce the number of suppliers participating in their supply chains, this will make it that much more difficult for small and diverse suppliers to breakthrough without significant size and scale. The best way to combat the scale challenge is coming to the table with unique, innovative solutions that bring value. These solutions could come in various forms including development of new software applications to streamline manual processes or a new innovative approach to product marketing.

The key message for small and diverse suppliers looking to breakthrough large corporate supply chains is this: Innovation will overrule size and scale where true value is delivered. Above average gross profit margins will follow. Here is to a rewarding 2016!

​Why Share Your Story?


Crystal J. Davis, ConnXus Senior Member Services & Affiliate Program Manager since 2012, brings over 12 years of experience certifying over 200 minority business enterprises in Ohio. Davis shares her story and experience on the highs and lows of supplier diversity as a kickoff to the Share Your Story blog contest February 1 – March 4.

Crystal Davis:


People enjoy stories because they can relate to and learn from others. Whether it’s the latest celebrity drama to business successes and failures—we all love a good story. That’s why I believe it’s especially important for diverse businesses to share their story to inspire and connect with others who may be stuck in a rut or are looking for business growth opportunities.

From my experience certifying small, diverse and women-owned businesses, I cannot underestimate the power of networking. Whether you’re attending a national trade show such as NMSDC or WBENC, or a local diversity conference—networking is the key to connecting with like-minded businesses and accessing educational opportunities.

On Becoming Certified

There are many realistic (and unrealistic) expectations when certifying your diverse business. Several third-party organizations are available to gain certification—including national, state and local certifying agencies. The most recognized are NMSDC, WBENC, CPUC and state municipalities.

After twelve years of certifying businesses, I’ve found the most successful companies were proactive about promoting their company’s strengths and capabilities. Just because you are certified, doesn’t mean that you instantly gain a contract with a Fortune 2000 corporation. Your business must hold the internal capacity and dedication to do business with major corporations.

Why Share My Story?

Sharing your story not only brings a sense of pride that you are helping someone else, but it brings awareness to your company by allowing others the insight into the failures and successes that you’ve endured.

I have encountered an ample amount of diverse business owners who feel as if they’ve hit a wall when trying to do business with corporate America. My advice to minority, women, veteran or disability-owned businesses who might be asking “Why should I share my story?” Here are my four reasons why:

  1. To educate other diverse business on what resources are to gain certification, what trade-shows produce the most ROI, and what educational opportunities will help grow their business needs.
  2. To connect and network with like-minded companies and those who have been through similar business paths.
  3. To inspire those who are in a rut or feel as if they can’t grow their business, and to see the bigger picture.
  4. In order to grow, your business needs to take inventory of where you’ve been, where you are and where you’d like to be.

What’s your story?

Submit your supplier diversity stories to from Feb. 1 – March 4 for a chance to win $3,000 for your business needs or a charity of your choice.

Select for full contest details.

Share Your Story the Month of February


We want to know…. How has supplier diversity impacted you, your business and/or your employees?