In this episode, we speak with Erica Stephens-Lynch, Global Supplier Diversity Director at Dow (material sciences company) about how companies can contract with and support diverse suppliers. Diverse suppliers are businesses that are 51% or more owned by people of color, women, LGBTQ individuals, people with disabilities, veterans, and other minorities.
The episode discusses how diverse suppliers can be supported by advocacy groups, health insurance pooling through professional employment organizations, creative payment terms and contracts, and the overall ways in which mental health challenges intertwine with these issues. When supported by well-resourced companies, diverse suppliers can profit and build generational wealth. However, they have a slimmer chance of penetrating the market when larger companies are chosen time and time again. Erica strives to change this inequitable industrial landscape.
She builds the capacity and connects small businesses to work with bigger companies. A great deal of Erica’s motivation comes from her desire to improve underserved communities.
In this episode, you will gain insight into the major challenges that diverse suppliers face in stabilizing their business, as well as the mental health support they need.
- Widgets are anything such as nuts, bolts, pipes, valves, fitting, or any trinket that is ordered to add to a larger product
- ESG stands for environmental, social and corporate governance
What is Supplier Diversity and how does it affect businesses?
[00:03:41] Supplier diversity focuses on woman-owned, minority-owned, LGBTQ-owned, veteran-owned, and disabled-owned businesses. Those five groups are the individuals that we are trying to make sure get an opportunity to succeed in the business world. So when you take a look at those different groups, there are particular needs that each of those groups addresses and within those groups, there are going to be different sets of needs.
And it’s really important because if you recognize they all have been in some way, shape or form underrepresented in the industry. And so what this is doing is trying to make sure that they now get to do business with the industry. They get to do business with big companies, Fortune 500 companies, Fortune 100 companies, and the like and bring their skills, their talents, their innovation to us.
What are the biggest challenges for employees of diverse suppliers regarding mental health?
[00:36:05] Mental health is something that can impact any one of us. You don’t have to be a diverse supplier, you don’t have to be in a big business, any individual can be impacted by mental health. The stigma is still there about mental health, but at the end of the day, it’s getting better. But along with that, we’ve also got to understand what those resources are and be able to help direct people to get the help that they need. And that’s, I think, the biggest challenge that you have in the industry because we’re not focusing on mental health, we’re focused on employing people.
Erica Stephens-Lynch encourages MBA students to have an impact on society through their entrepreneurial spirit.
[00:49:46] I would just suggest that we start thinking bigger. We become those next diverse companies. We become those fulfillment of gaps in the industry, but we also focus not only on our sales, we focus on others. We focus on the community. We focus on giving back. That would be my biggest suggestion to how do we contribute and how do we move forward from here.