Vendor Diversity – The power of looking LIKE your customer base.

I recently had the opportunity to attend Toyota’s Power of Exchange event. An event where they demonstrated (not just stated) their commitment to supplier diversity.

With Toyota’s pending move to Plano, Texas, this event was an important step of integrating into the local community and giving people the opportunity to not just meet Toyota executives but also their Tier 1 vendors and other minority suppliers in the local Dallas space. A few business owners came from Austin, San Antonio and other major Texas cities.

From hearing the speakers – Toyota executives, vendors and even a keynote from Ron Kirk – the idea became crystal clear. Ron Kirk was awesome – I won’t digress with his powerful commentary on how people will go where there’s an opportunity and leave places where they aren’t represented.

The idea:

A business (city/organization/group) will succeed when it best reflects the population it serves, and I’m not talking about identical thoughts and ideologies. I’m talking about humanity’s diversity: race, gender, cultural perspectives, and more. This goes beyond an entire company getting behind its mission and values. This is about the true reflection of uniqueness.

I have spent a lot of time in marketing specifically as it relates to a company’s hiring habits and of course, diversity always played a part. There was a time when it was seen as a requirement, and then BOOM, the lightbulb went on when companies realized that diversity goes hand in hand with company viability and growth.

As marketers and business owners we need to pay close attention to this, especially if we are small. If there are only 5 people in the company, it may be particularly difficult to fully represent your audience. BUT, taking the time to represent your audience with your client base, making an effort to network with a diverse group of professionals, and being intentional about the use of online and print imagery is a start and will set the stage for a well-balanced representation of this wonderful melting pot world we live in.

If you have a moment, I’d love to hear about your ‘light bulb’ moment where you realized that company diversity has huge benefits to you and your business.