The Skinny on Engaging Diversity Suppliers for Contingent Workforce Management


Diversity in contingent workforce management is a topic that has evolved in its significance over time. There is enormous value in pursuing a diversity strategy when building a workforce and when selecting staffing suppliers to participate in achieving broader workforce management goals. At the same time, there are many misconceptions about what is involved. This post will explore the common questions regarding the reasons for (and ways how to) field a diversity program within your workforce management practice.

First, let’s be clear, there are benefits associated with diversity in the workforce itself (i.e., the composition of the individuals comprising the contingent workforce which we wrote about at length in our blog post about workforce diversity). There are also different but no less-valuable benefits to pursuing supplier diversity (those supplier organizations owned and operated by women, minorities, etc.) as we’ve examined in past posts about supplier diversity. We’ll be examining the latter, supplier diversity, in this piece.

The most common misconception about supplier diversity is that to be compliant with diversity goals means some kind of quota system. This is simply not the case. Compliance with corporate diversity initiatives is not simply a means to an end with respect to corporate social responsibility for positive public image. While this may have been the reason for some organizations to pursue diversity in the past, today’s forward-thinking organizations realize that investing in MWBEs (minority and women-owned business enterprises) are an investment in the local communities where these businesses operate.

While there is still an undeniable element of reputation/image management inherent in diversity programs, large employers have amassed great volume of hard data supporting the notion that diversity culture pays great dividends in terms of productivity as well as improved access to pools of talent within diversity communities.

In fact, 50% of companies rate collaboration with use of diversity suppliers as highly effective in identifying new suppliers. In today’s tight market for qualified candidates, hiring organizations need any advantage they can leverage to make inroads into talent channels outside the traditional sourcing channels. Surprisingly though, 40% of sourcing teams say they have difficulty identifying diversity suppliers using their internal sourcing tools. Well, perhaps it is not so surprising given the proliferation of suppliers of all kinds—MWBEs and others. In fact, today there are at least 16 different categories used to identify diversity suppliers and as always, there are unscrupulous players seeking to capitalize on the confusion.

In order to ensure the veracity of all suppliers’ claims of diversity status, there are a number of third-party certification bodies that validate suppliers’ claims to ensure hiring organizations are not being misled when they engage diversity staffing companies.

If your organization is serious about reaping the benefits of diversity, both operationally as well as financially, you may want to engage the guidance of a partner like nextSource with the industry exposure

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