engage magazine issue 006/\'08 - Page 22

22 SUPPLIER DIVERSITY Reginald Williams In the US, a variety of legislation, as a result of the Civil Rights movement, means public sector bodies “It was at this conference that I first introduced the term Supplier Diversity,” explains Williams, who runs a national consulting firm with specialisation in supplier diversity applications for private industry and government, which he launched in 1972. “I coined the term here to address the increasing anxiety over the term “minority”. At this time there was a backlash taking place in the States, predicated by white males who were reaching retirement age and leaving corporations they had served for years. Minority purchasing was in existence and for white males, the word minority automatically excluded them. Williams said that as a result, under the Clinton [former President Bill Clinton] administration, some of these initiatives were “watered down” but he believed there was a solution to the problem: this being to ensure that all races and genders were being catered for. “I decided that the only way that we were going to be able to move forward was to incorporate everyone,” said Williams. “The NMSDC used the terms ‘minority purchasing’ and ‘minority business’, but the problem with these terms was that if you were a white male you were not a minority and therefore not included. It supported this misinformation that white males were no longer wanted. I had to do away with that. By using the term SD it became clear that we want all of our suppliers to be represented, and that included white males.” “The result is that there was a stronger definition which could withstand not just public pressure but also legal standards.” In the US, a variety of legislation, as a result of the Civil Rights movement, means public sector bodies are legally required to buy up to 25 per cent of their goods and services from diverse suppliers.* are legally required to buy up to 25 per cent of their goods and services from diverse suppliers. Diversity is a relatively new concept in the UK, but it has been in existence in the US for over 30 years. It can be defined as opening up market opportunities to minority-owned businesses in order to enable them to compete on a more even footing with larger vendors for the supply of goods and services. Engages’ Colette Machado tracked down and spoke to the man responsible for actually coining the phrase ‘Supplier Diversity’. It was the year 1985 and Reginald Williams, CEO, of Atlanta-based Procurement Resources Inc, whose company boasts clients such as Coca-Cola, Time Warner Corporations, and American Airlines, was the lead presenter at a conference hosted by the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC). It was his ninth consecutive year as the main presenter. Supplier engage | uk ISSUE SIX 2008