The Coca-Cola Company was an early adopter of supp lier
diversity and began work in this area in the 1980s. Today, Coca-Cola
(No. 2 on The 2008 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity® list)
considers supplier diversity more important than ever, as explained by
Global Director of Supplier Diversity Johnnie Booker.
Can you describe Coca-Cola’s commitment to MWBEs?
Booker: Although our commitment goes back more than three
decades, former Chairman Doug Daft made a public pledge in 2000
to spend $800 million with MWBEs over a five-year period. When
Neville Isdell became chairman and CEO in 2004, he reaffirmed that
commitment and engaged our senior leadership to ensure that supplier diversity was incorporated in all business activities. The result:
Between 2001 and 2005, we exceeded our five-year pledge, spending
more than $1 billion with MWBEs, and to date, we have increased
supplier diversity spend 550 percent.
That’s because MWBEs substantially
c ontribute to the U.S. gross domestic
p roduct. For example, the number of
c ompanies owned by Black, Latino and
Asian women increased nearly 120 percent between 1997 and 2006, reports the
Center for Women’s Business Research.
More specifically, enterprises owned by
Black women employ 21 percent of all
MBE workers and generate 20 percent of
How did your company make such progress so quickly?
Booker: We have the commitment of senior leadership. We’ve also
trained more than 400 supplier-diversity champions who advocate
the use of MWBEs within their respective departments. In addition,
our supplier-diversity mentoring program helps develop the capabilities and capacity of MWBEs to increase their competitiveness for
additional opportunities. We also sponsor some of our MWBEs in
executive-management programs at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and the Tuck School of Business at
Dartmouth, which provide valuable networking and training.
“At the last chief procurement officer
summit, I sat in a four-hour discussion on
advancing supplier diversity,” says Ralph
Moore, president of RGMA, a Chicago-based consultancy focused on supplier
diversity. “This tells me that this is finally
b ecoming an issue at the C level, and not just
the supplier-diversity manager’s office.”
C orporate leaders realize that their procure-
m ent programs can be used to build brand loyalty
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What advice would you give diverse suppliers who want to succeed?
Booker: First, become certified with a nationally affiliated organization. Next, research the corporations you wish to target, and then
know how to sell yourself to these companies. Also, know business trends, learn industry language and get involved in organizations that will help grow your businesses.
spending to help ensure they meet a diverse
supplier sourcing goal of 15 percent.
“All businesses should have equal access to
compete for and enter into state contracts,”
Gov. Strickland said at a press conference.
“While these programs exist to help bridge the
economic gap for minorities and the disadvantaged, they ultimately create jobs and help small
businesses grow and succeed.”
“ C orporate America can
no longer afford to subsidize
supplier diversity. Supplier
excellence is mandatory. —Ralp”h Moore,