Corporate supplier diversity programs are a “win-win” for customers and suppliers as they positively affect the marketplace by increasing the number of qualified and experienced members of the supply chain. For women-owned firms, corporate supplier diversity programs can serve as a critical pathway to corporate market access as contracting with large corporations is an opportunity for women business owners to develop stable revenue streams, enhance their social networks, and scale up their businesses. Private and public corporations initiate supplier diversity programs to incorporate women- and minority-owned businesses into their procurement processes across the supply chain. The stability and connections developed within high quality programs may advance growth-oriented and scale-up women business owners in intensifying and expanding their businesses.
In 2015, the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) sponsored a survey of women-owned businesses to identify and analyze factors that facilitate or impede women business owners’ participation in private sector supplier diversity programs. This survey is a first-of-its-kind effort towards understanding women entrepreneurs’ perceptions of and experiences with corporate supplier diversity programs. The survey also explores what activities and practices supplier diversity programs undertake to facilitate increased contract access or create challenges in securing corporate contracts. Using the NWBC survey results, this research explores the barriers that women face in supplying large corporations. It further examines perceptions of program quality, providing insights into what program offerings can be improved to increase corporate utilization of women-owned firms as suppliers.