The Value of Supplier Diversity

Understanding the role of supplier diversity certifications

Across the retail industry, many companies’ supplier diversity programs are becoming more closely tied to corporate diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) objectives. Supplier diversity programs support underrepresented businesses.   

One expectation increasingly set by retailers is that qualifying suppliers secure appropriate certifications from diversity certifying organizations. These certifications help retailers identify diverse solution providers, contractors and suppliers while verifying their eligibility for internal diverse supplier programs. Beyond certification opportunities, certifying organizations often also offer networking and engagement opportunities, to help companies promote and grow diverse suppliers.

The Value of Diversity Certifications 

Earlier this summer RILA’s Retail Innovation Center hosted a webinar featuring insights from Shannon Patel, Director of Supplier Diversity at Kohl’s, Heather Cox, President and Co-Founder at Certify My Company and Loren Breslow, President and Founder at Command Marketing Innovations. This webinar focused on helping qualifying companies understand the value of getting certified along with the resources available to help with the process.  
The panel uniquely captured the candid perspective of each stakeholder in the process, helping attendees to better understand where to begin, what to expect, and the value of diversity certifications. We recommend viewing the webinar and slide deck below to fully understand the benefits of diversity certifications and the steps to get there. 

Key Takeaways:  

  • Companies rely on diverse certifications programs as a way to create supplier recruitment guidelines and ensure their program is auditable.  

  • Even if supplier already have a relationship with companies- having a certification helps benefit and create more opportunities.  

  • Interested suppliers should begin researching and applying for diversity certifications sooner rather than later, as many strict regulations and guidelines can create a lengthy process (sometimes years) to complete.  

  • By staying on top of your certifications, you might create new opportunities to work with retailers who are increasingly looking to work with certified suppliers.  

Webinar Recording 
​Webinar Slides 

Want to learn more? 
Prompted by discussions with RILA’s Diversity & Inclusion Leaders Council (DILC), RILA has established quarterly calls for retail Supplier Diversity leads to benchmark and identify educational opportunities like the organization of the above webinar. For more information, reach out to Carmelina Palmer, Coordinator of CSR & supply chain. 


Examples of Supplier Diversity Organizations 

Examples of RILA Members Diverse Supplier Portals and Websites  

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