How to Make Supplier Diversity Work

Shelley Stewart Jr.

Shelley Stewart Jr.

As part of the Supplier Diversity Connection Workshop (mentioned previously), Shelley Stewart Jr. addressed WMBEs about how to tap into new business opportunities. Stewart is senior vice president of operational excellence and chief procurement officer at Tyco International, a global, diversified company that provides services in four key areas: Electronics, Healthcare, Fire & Security, and Engineered Products. You can read a profile of him that appeared in Purchasing magazine.

Stewart attacked the perception that women- and minority-owned businesses are not competitive. He countered that claim by pointing out, “I have big suppliers who are not competitive and need extra TLC.” He cautioned that supplier diversity efforts should not be top-down, but a part of a company’s overall strategy. He said that he liked to “..put it in the drinking water.”

As WMBE’s approach companies to get business, Stewart said they have to focus on how they will add value and not simply champion themselves as a woman or a minority. He said, “Show value and drive costs down and you will grow your business.” A company doesn’t want to be in the position of finding some special way to bring in a minority business. Instead, make it a value proposition.

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