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Weaving DEI across the pillars of customer diversity

Thursday November 25, 2021, By Lalita Tata

When it comes to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, it is not just the workplace that needs to advocate these principles and build policies and implement them. “It is also the entire business that includes the supplier and the customer that needs to be diverse, giving equal opportunities, while making them feel included fearlessly,” said Priti Singh, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, Mastercard. Priti was one of the eminent guest speakers at the recently held two-day event ‘Best Practices of the 100 Best Conference’ by Avtar and Working Mother.

Speaking on ‘Customer Diversity’, she elaborated that a diverse supplier will attract diverse customers. There are three pillars for the business to focus on to have diverse suppliers:

PEOPLE: People or employees will work towards the growth of the business only when their needs, growth, and well-being are taken care of. A few things that organizations can do to ensure this are:

  • Create a dynamic and engaged workplace
  • Create policies for family care and new parents leave
  • Equal pay to women
  • Create opportunities for the return of mid-career women
  • Conduct mentoring, coaching, and leadership programs
  • Conduct programs for empowering women
  • Youth employment and apprenticeship programs
  • Campus attraction
  • Conduct learning programs and opportunities

MARKET: The market will be part of the business either as a supplier or a customer when they trust the brand. They have to feel being associated with it is safe and beneficial to them. Bringing balance and equal access to products and initiatives will increase visibility in the market. A few initiatives which an organization can take are:

  • Create programs for financial solutions and financial inclusions aimed at women
  • Introduce skilling, upskilling, and reskilling programs
  • Conduct a review of adjacent ecosystems for biases, inequities, and weaknesses
  • Respect and promote human rights in the use of network
  • Expand the annual spending with the underrepresented communities
  • Review the brand work through the lens of racism and bias to enhance performance

SOCIETY: It is of utmost importance to empower women economically. It is not only the right thing to say but also the right thing to do. Driving an inclusive approach to business has great proven benefits. A report by McKinsey says that closing the gender gap by 2025 will increase the country’s GDP by 25%. Introducing programs to empower women and the underrepresented groups is important for a brand or organization’s success. A few things which can be done are:

  • Build on the employee volunteerism to devote even more time to organizations and activities that directly impact the women and the underrepresented communities
  • Deepen partnerships
  • Enhance community partnerships with other leading civil rights organizations
  • Examine how racism and bias, LGBTQ+ issues, and other inclusion dimensions factor into government engagement and the organizations’ advocacy work globally

Working with underrepresented businesses is critical to enhancing the shopping experience of the guests. Supplier Diversity is a great idea but has some challenges too. Influencing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion among the suppliers is the biggest one. An organization must invest in suppliers to improve diversity and enable them with technologies to make their mark in society. “Thinking and setting a long-term goal help in change rather than setting short-term goals. Hence, having a few goals at the same time is also important. It will help the suppliers understand that why DEI is important in supplier diversity,” Singh said.

She further added that at Mastercard, few organizational leaders also invest in coaching and mentoring their juniors to explain the importance of supplier diversity. They also ensure the ideas of their mentees are implemented and groom them to become better future leaders.

Supplier Diversity in the business is as important as implementing DEI at the workplace. Continuous and sustained efforts are the key to the diversity of suppliers and their fearless inclusion.

Author Profile

Lalita Tata
Lalita Tata
With a diverse experience of around 10 years in the Power Sector and Journalism, Lalita is a Manager - Research & Solutions at Avtar.

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