National Women’s Business Council report analyzes U.S. corporate supplier diversity programs and points to key areas in which suppliers, corporations and policymakers can work better together to scale-up and grow women-owned businesses.

WASHINGTON – December 7, 2016 – The National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) today unveiled a new report highlighting strengths and challenges of U.S. corporate supplier diversity programs and revealing areas for suggested policymaker support, as well as recommendations for women business owners and corporations.  Supply and Demand Perspectives on Women’s Participation in Corporate Supplier Diversity Programs, prepared for NWBC by Premier Quantitative Consulting, Inc., details findings from three complementary studies to further women’s access to the corporate marketplace.

“There are more than 10 million women-owned businesses in this country, but while women-owned businesses make up more than a third of the nation’s privately-held businesses, only 3.4 percent of women-owned firms generate $500,000 or more in annual revenues,” said Carla Harris, Chair of the National Women’s Business Council. “This report presents a multi-dimensional look into the supplier diversity programs that support women-owned businesses to scale up and grow, and outlines key areas in which suppliers, corporations, and policymakers can work better together to open up this vast private market.”

The report is comprised of three separate studies that provide a snapshot of current corporate supplier diversity programs from the perspectives of supply and demand: a statistical analysis of a survey of women business owners, a review of the public-facing side of S&P 500 corporations’ supplier diversity programs and a synthesis of in-depth interviews with 15 corporate supplier diversity managers. Several areas demonstrated high potential for improved collaboration between policymakers, corporations, and women-owned small businesses. In particular, these groups can work together to:

  • Improve transparency about supplier diversity program offerings and contract requirements –Corporations that publicly share contracting expectations and requirements, and supplier diversity program offerings, will improve efficiency in the contracting process, for both themselves and the diverse suppliers seeking contracts.  Government can play a role in encouraging this increased transparency, including through sharing best practices learned from federal procurement successes.
  • Engage “growth scaffolding” opportunities, particularly for women-owned businesses – Corporations and suppliers benefit from interim “scale up” steps, such as Tier 2 contract opportunities. Government can encourage the “growth scaffolding” of women-owned businesses by developing and promoting capacity assessments for business owners and by publicly celebrating, along with encouraging, well-developed Tier 2 corporate supplier diversity programs.
  • Increase corporations’ purchasing commitment to women owned businesses –Government can support the expansion of supplier diversity efforts towards women entrepreneurs by creating incentives to do more business, not only with small businesses in general, but with women owned businesses specifically.

By following these recommendations to encourage corporations’ efforts to contract with a diverse pool of suppliers, policymakers can support the success of women-owned businesses nationwide and improve opportunities for women to access the corporate supply chain, thereby strengthening the overall U.S. economy.



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