engage magazine issue 003 \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'07 - Page 24

24 DIVERSITY CHAMPION “We want to do business with diverse companies but where do we find them?” asks Sam Kemp, supplier diversity champion at global investment bank Lehman Brothers. Working for Lehman Brothers in London, Sam Kemp is an Executive Director in European Finance working in Equities Management Reporting and alongside this, in supplier diversity. “Finding diver se suppliers in the UK is very difficult as unlike the US there is no database,” Mr Kemp told engage magazine. “Here it would really be a matter of having to start from almost nowhere to find an ethnic minority supplier. If we, for example wanted to find a corporate entertainment supplier that was a diverse company, where would we start?” Last year, in an attempt to identify diverse suppliers and raise awareness of diversity among its existing supplier base, Lehman Brothers launched the European Supplier Diversity Initiative. “Diversity in its broadest sense is critical. Supplier Diversity directly addresses the commercial side of diversity,” said Mr Kemp. “At Lehman Brothers we believe that there is a definite case for supplier diversity. Without a doubt diverse suppliers are difficult to find. We want to ensure that when we engage a third party we want to be as diverse as possible and cast the net as widely as possible. “Diversity is a critical component of the Firm’s approach and is a very critical part of our strategy. Recognising the need to establish the level of diversity among its existing supplier base in June 2006 Lehman Brothers launched a series of Supplier Diversity Breakfast Briefings. Following each briefing session, a questionnaire was sent to suppliers covering topics such as ownership demographics, diversity policies, and general company information. The submissions enabled Lehman Brothers to understand more about the diversity of its supplier base, as well as to better understand the diversity-related efforts of suppliers. “Diversity is a critical component of the Firm’s approach and is a very critical part of our strategy.” “Most suppliers had never heard of the term before or were unaware of what it was all about,” said Mr Kemp. “It was a great opportunity for us to inform our suppliers about supplier diversity. The company received such a good response that it has now decided to “top up” the information with a blanket questionnaire which it is sending to approximately 1,500 companies by post and email. Questionnaire results are being used to further develop the supplier diversity processes and procedures already in place throughout Lehman Brothers and to identify mentoring opportunities with suppliers. Lehman Brothers is also a charter member of an organisation called Minority Supplier Development UK (MSDUK), through which it has been involved in “Meet the Buyer” events. At these events Lehman Brothers’ category managers have met a number of well qualified small diverse businesses who then have the opportunity to network with those who are responsible for the procurement of goods and services across Europe. However, Mr Kemp was keen to point out how supplier diversity should not be seen. “Supplier diversity is not positive discrimination - we are very clear about that,” Mr Kemp said. “We would not compromise quality or value, and that is one of the reasons why we believe it is too early to set targets. Nevertheless we are currently doing an exercise in order to understand how many companies that we are doing business with are actually diverse. But we are definitely not looking to set targets just for the sake of it. “Supplier diversity is important because it identifies the best suppliers. For example, in terms of software, we probably need various small developers that specialise diverse companies included. Supplier diversity is also part of the Firm’s leadership agenda.” Although Lehman Brothers’ involvement with supplier diversity is fairly new (as with most organisations in the UK) Mr Kemp believes Lehman Brothers has been successful in raising the awareness of supplier diversity throughout the Firm and by changing its procurement processes to address the issue. “Supplier diversity in the UK is very much in its embryonic stage,” said Mr Kemp, “so it is great for us (Lehman Brothers) to be involved in agenda-setting. engage | UK ISSUE THREE 2007