Google implemented a supplier diversity program to drive economic growth for small businesses and help boost Google’s innovative culture.
In 2014, Google launched a supplier diversity program to ensure that its staff had the ability to search large and small vendors when purchasing products or services. The tool it developed has helped Google employees create relationships with small businesses, defined as U.S.-based companies with $15 million or less in annual revenue and 50 or fewer employees. Google felt these companies often have a specialized and innovative product or service but might never be discovered simply because of their size.
The supplier diversity program was developed out of a company-wide “business inclusion” initiative, in which Google wanted to level the playing field for its current customers and decided to use the same principles for their suppliers. “We realized that if we want small and diverse businesses as customers, we should also want them as suppliers. We wanted to be open for business and have economic impact,” says Adrianna Samaniego, senior global program manager of Google’s Small Business Supplier Diversity program.
Chris Genteel, head of Business Inclusion at Google, attended the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) conference in 2012, and quickly understood the monumental impact Google could have on small businesses. The company had the opportunity to influence economic growth for suppliers that were under-represented online, while also gaining access to inventive products that Google users had yet to discover.
Supplier diversity at work.
Samaniego, Genteel, and Adam Gardner, a site program manager at Google, began devoting 20% of their week to developing a supplier diversity program. Genteel says their objective from the very beginning was “to build out a program that was meaningful and not just symbolic.”
The key objectives of the supplier diversity program are defined as:
- Create a program and technology tool that is easy to use by suppliers and Googlers alike.
- Communication is critical: Google commits to responding to suppliers within two weeks.
- Provide benefits for participation: discount on sites, faster payment options for suppliers, and training programs.
- Create an advisory board to add in guiding suppliers.
After laying out the foundational elements of the program, Genteel got to work on developing an internal technology tool for Google staff to search small and diverse suppliers with specialized and innovative products or services.
In 2014, Google officially launched the Small Business Supplier Diversity program. The program focuses on two key components: supplier diversity and innovative skills development.
In collaboration with the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, Google continues to discover, rank, and utilize small suppliers, helping them to successfully compete with larger corporations and increase product and service awareness.
“We now want to invest more in education. We’re digging into our data to understand where we are compared to our metrics of success. And we’re drilling down by community into the community of diverse suppliers to uncover the areas where we can improve,” Samaniego says.
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