The Benefits of Supplier Diversity
What is Supplier Diversity?
The term Supplier Diversity is becoming much more commonplace in the business community today, but what does it mean? According to the Institute for Supply Management supplier diversity is an organization's efforts to include different categories of suppliers in its sourcing process. By doing so, this gives diverse businesses equal access to purchasing opportunities and enhances supply chain diversification.
There are many categories that can be used to identify diverse businesses, such as Minority-Owned Business Enterprise (MBE) and Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE). Diverse suppliers will need to be certified through the Federal Government or a third-party certification agency so that the organizations they do business with can record and report diverse spend. Examples of these agencies include the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) and the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC).
Why Is Supplier Diversity Important?
Minority and women owned companies are among the fastest growing businesses in the United States. Because most diverse businesses are small businesses, they boost the economic recovery and sustainability of their communities. According to a report published by the NMSDC, the nearly 12,000 diverse businesses certified by NMSDC as of August 2014 had a total economic impact of more than $400 billion in output. These minority-owned small businesses helped create more than 2.2 million jobs held by persons who find themselves either directly or indirectly employed by NMSDC-certified MBEs.
Additionally, some government entities are required by law to purchase a minimum percentage of their supply needs from MBEs and/or WBEs. Many corporations, although not legally bound, realize the benefits in purchasing from MBEs and WBEs and have committed to buying a substantial amount of goods and services from them. In today’s competitive business landscape, MBE and WBE certifications offer one way to differentiate a company from other potential suppliers.
What makes a successful supplier diversity program?
Since supplier diversity programs have been shown to add economic value because they encourage the growth of diverse businesses, it is important for corporations to have well thought out programs. Diverse businesses typically encounter barriers such as access to capital and networking opportunities, so effective supplier diversity strategies can alleviate these potential burdens.
Additionally, a big part of a supplier diversity program should be the supplier development aspect. The concept of supplier development means that the organization offers resources and guidance to help vendors expand their operations, deliver a better product, and become more successful. This will ultimately strengthen the sponsoring organization's community outreach and increase the company’s bottom line. Typical resources that may be available to diverse suppliers in a supplier development program include matchmaking and networking opportunities, professional development for the company leaders, and mentoring programs.
How do I become a diverse supplier?
In order qualify as a diverse supplier, the business typically needs to be at least 51% owned and operated by a woman, minority, veteran, person with a disability, LGBTQ, or be considered a socio-economically disadvantaged small business. The process to become certified involves documentation, screening, and interviews. The application may take several weeks to be approved, but once it is, you are certified and are eligible to participate in supplier diversity programs and can be placed into a database of suppliers that corporations and government agencies access. The Small Business Administration website is a great resource for small diverse business owners to learn about the different types of federally sponsored programs that provide contracting support for small businesses.
More companies are beginning to realize the positive effect that comes from working with diverse suppliers because it offers a competitive advantage, greater community engagement, and helps to create wealth and employment opportunities. Ultimately it is the job of corporations and our government to expand into diverse communities because as these small businesses grow, so will our nation’s economy.
Wellness in the workplace means different things for different people, but it is an overall effort to decrease discomfort through methods of improving physical and mental health in your organization. We devote a large portion of our lives to time spent in an office, so empowering your employees to be their best selves is a natural duty of corporate stewardship. In an effort to make your employees feel valued and cared for on a human level, start by gaining their favor and ideas into wellness programs because wellness is not a 'one-size-fits-all' approach. Emphasizing the importance of taking time for self-care will improve mood, retention, and overall sense of community. Implementing wellness programs in your office is a win-win because you are inherently reducing costs related to health-care expenses, all the while improving the longevity and vigor of your workforce.
Provide the Best Environment Possible
When coming up with ways to please your employees, providing a comfortable, welcome, nurturing environment, shows that you care about them on a personal level and want to help all of your employees become the best version of themselves.
The majority of people sit at their desks for several hours a day, which has been shown to poorly impact health. Assessing workplace ergonomics can help to redesign your workplace furniture and provide comfortable options that won't cause problems. The simple definition of “workplace ergonomics is the science that deals with designing and arranging the workplace environment so that people can it them easily and safely.” Identifying the best chairs, desks, lighting, colors, and layout to use substantially benefits employees as it appeals directly to their safety and comfort. Sit-stand Workstations are good options for those who want to get on their feet more. Encourage your employees to take frequent breaks to stretch and take a lap around the office.
Breakrooms are a good place to exercise your wellness initiatives. You can have informal discussions with your team members on ways to implement some wellness programs for your office, and it is a good place to get some feedback. Have some of your initiatives clearly displayed, like some stretches you can do to combat the effects of sitting, or healthy swaps you can make for some traditional snacks.
Provide healthy snacks and remove the temptation that easily accessible vending machine foods offer. It also helps your employees feel like they have options, and aren't forced to bring their own foods if they want to eat healthy. Get employee consensus on the types of foods they would like to see in the breakroom so they don't feel forced to eat the foods you recommend.
Activity is a good way to stimulate brain function and provide long-term positive health impacts. Incentivize your employees to exercise together and facilitate group classes a few times a month. Rewarding those employees who are stewards of the wellness program will help motivate others to get involved and champion the sense of camaraderie in your office.
Work can cause a scattered headspace, so it is also important as part of a holistic wellness program to include supporting activities of mindfulness and meditation. Host a morning meditation, or have a dedicated space for meditation and quiet time with some books for employees who want to clear their heads in the middle of the day.
Flexible Plan Guided by Feedback
One of the most important facets of workplace wellness is making sure that your workforce is on board. Setting goals as a group is a great way to keep everyone on track and accountable. It takes the support of your community and those who you surround yourself with to improve the motivation of the group. Have your employees share some hacks that help them lead healthier lives. As mentioned before, creating incentives and rewards for meeting your organization's wellness goals will help unite your group. Punishing those who do not participate will not drive the results you are looking for, and may only create resentment for not abiding by 'your plan'.
So come up with some easy ways to make small changes, track them over time both qualitatively and anecdotally to see if they are working, and be flexible in your methods. Workplace wellness is not something that is achieved overnight, but through proper education and empowerment, you will be able to tell rather quickly if you are moving in a positive direction.
Sustainability has been a hot topic for some time now, but its realization is often elusive. When considering what makes an office sustainable, we encourage everyone to keep it simple: Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. With the three core practices of sustainability in mind, your company’s office environment can be optimized for a sustainable future. Check out our 3 easy ways that you can create a more sustainable, eco-friendly office environment.
Waste often becomes forgotten about once it leaves your sight, so one way to increase mindfulness is to centralize your trash receptacles - not allowing trash cans at the desks of employees and not allowing food/eating at desks keeps employees keenly aware of where trash belongs and what trash is recyclable. We’ve done this at Guy Brown and it really works! Employees are much more aware of how much individual waste they are producing when they must move from their desks to dispose of each item individually. Since recycling options are available at all centralized trash receptacles, employees make a decision about recycling each time they dispose of trash, which promotes personal responsibility.
Your company breakroom is another great place to adopt sustainable practices and reduce waste. Having clearly marked receptacles to designate what type of waste goes to landfills, recycling, or compost reduces waste. This also demonstrates the company’s commitment to sustainable practices in a very practical way.
Electronics are large consumers of energy and with a few habit changes, you can reduce your company’s energy bill and consumption. Encourage employees to unplug small appliances when not in use, power off their computer if they will be gone for more than 30 minutes, as well as at the end of the day, and turn lights off whenever possible. Simple things every employee can do to positively impact your organization and the environment.
Reusing materials whenever possible as well as purchasing reusable/recyclable products is a great combination for a greener office. In your breakroom, encouraging employees to bring reusable utensils, plates, and bottles can drastically cut down on the amount of landfill waste produced in your office.
Breakrooms and cafeterias can be a large source of waste for companies and a hinderance to office sustainability. Non-recyclable paper plates and plastic cutlery negatively impacts your carbon footprint. In order to create less waste, it is important to be mindful about the products we use and when possible, preferring the purchase of products that are either reusable or recyclable. Purchase items for your office that can be reused, like paper clips, instead of staples. Choose eco-friendly plastics for breakroom supplies. If your office environment is conducive, and you want to truly reuse your waste, you could even start a composting process on your office campus and use that to help feed plants around the office. Now that’s dedication!
Even in today’s digital offices, the printing environment still holds some of the greatest opportunity for improvement in sustainability and eco-friendly practices and even cost reduction too. A few easily implementable changes include recycling your toner cartridges or purchasing re-engineered toner or re-manufactured ink and toner cartridges. Simple things like changing your printer settings to only print double-sided and having clearly designated areas for recycling also promotes sustainability and cost reduction.
There are printer monitoring software programs that you can install as well. The software manages your print volume, supply consumption, and can help govern your company’s printing habits and costs. Print governance software (aka DCA – Data Collection Agent) can be beneficial because you are prompted to enter a personal code at the printer to release your job, thus fostering more mindful printing practices and eliminating print jobs that never get picked up. Installing such software is not difficult and it’s an excellent first step on the path to becoming a paperless office.
These tips cover a few easy changes your office can make to create a more sustainable, eco-friendly office environment that can help the planet for future generations. Remember, in order to make eco-friendly sustainable habits last, gain employee support and promote personal responsibility for environmentally thoughtful behavior. Realizing a sustainable office comes down to lots of people making many small environmentally friendly decisions each day.
Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Keep it simple and you’ll be on the pathway to a more sustainable office in no time at all. It’s simple enough that you could even begin implementing these in your organization today? What are some creative ways that your office practices sustainability? Share your thoughts, we’d be glad to hear your ideas or help you start your program today. Drop us a line any time.
Within the past few years, there has been an increase in the push for consumers to shop small businesses in their local communities. This has been amplified by the annual “Small Business Saturday”, which is an American shopping holiday that falls after Black Friday and encourages shoppers to patronize brick and mortar businesses that are small and local. The Small Business Administration identified that there are more than 29.6 million small businesses operating in the U.S. today and firms with fewer than 100 employees have the largest share of small business employment. It turns out there are some compelling benefits to shopping small as opposed to big box retailers and A to Z Marketplaces. Here are 4 reasons why you should be buying from small, local businesses:
Improving the local economy
When you buy from a local business, you are helping that business become more profitable. With a profitable business, the owners can hire additional employees which in turn creates jobs for the local economy. With thriving small businesses and happy employees, the money will also stay in the community. According to a study done by American Independent Business Alliance, 48 percent of each purchase at local small businesses was recirculated locally into the community compared to 14 percent of purchases at chain stores. Many times, a local purchase turns into an indirect in investment in the local community.
Better customer experience
Many big box retailers cannot keep up with the volume of customer service calls they receive, so they have begun out-sourcing their customer service teams or turning to an automated system. This leaves many consumers frustrated due to not receiving the level of service they were expecting. With small local businesses, you get individualized service when you call, and you can speak with an actual person on the phone. With local businesses, you can get to know the person or team behind the product and connect with the business owners. If there is ever an issue that warrants attention, you can trust that the problem will be taken seriously and handled swiftly because of the reputation the company wants to maintain in the community in which they serve.
We have all heard the phrase “small businesses are the backbone of the economy”. This may be due to the fact that according to U.S. Census Bureau data from 2014, there are 5.83 million employer firms in the United States and firms with fewer than 500 workers accounted for 99.7 percent of those businesses. When people are able to run successful businesses, it encourages others to follow-suit and pursue the “American Dream”. Entrepreneurship fuels America’s economic innovation and prosperity all while helping families of employees make economic progress.
Community based product offerings
Local businesses have the freedom to select products based on their own interests and their customer’s needs, not based on a national sales plan. A local business can typically provide a broader range of product choices based on the preferences of their local communities and what sells the best. Additionally, many smaller merchants have access to the same vendors as the big box retailers and will make more of an effort to ensure customers get the exact product they are searching for. Another impactful part is that many small businesses will go out of their way to support other local entrepreneurs by featuring locally made products or products sold by diverse owned businesses. This means that you will often be able to find products that are not available at a chain location.
The value of buying from local small businesses cannot be stressed enough. Not only are you improving the local economy and supporting entrepreneurship, but you are getting better customer service and a unique selection of products you can’t find at the big box retailers. Next time you are thinking about passing up the opportunity to shop small, consider the 57.9 million small business employees in the United States who are eagerly working to gain your support!
Guy Brown is a certified small, minority and women owned business that offers tailored business solutions to meet your company needs - office products and workplace supplies, managed print services and inspired office interiors.
In the second half of the 1980s, desktop laser printers became widely available as the personal computer revolutionized our lives, first at work and then, later at home. To begin with, PCs and printers were expensive and, by today's standard, printing speeds slow and print quality poor.
Still, in comparison to the typewriters and dot-matrix printers they replaced, laser printers were a huge advance. The Hewlett Packard LaserJet printer introduced in 1984 cost $3,495 which, in 2018 dollars, is the equivalent of almost $8,500. It printed at 8 pages per minute, with a resolution of 300 dpi and was quiet, at <55dBA compared to the dot-matrix printers and typewriters it replaced.
Fast forward to 2018, where it's now possible to purchase an HP monochrome laser printer, such as the LaserJet Pro M102w, which prints at up to 1200 dpi, up to 23 pages per minute, and can be purchased for around $120. So, it prints at almost 3x the speed, at 42x the dpi, and costs only 1% of what it did in 1984 equivalent dollars!
300 dots per inch (DPI) horizontally and vertically equals 90,000 dots per square inch. 1,200 DPI vertically and horizontally equals 1,440,000 dots per square inch, or 16x the print density!
We thought it would be interesting to compare the 1984 value proposition to the present day. As we just explained, the HP LaserJet printer in 1984 at $3,500 is the equivalent of $8,300 in 2018 dollars. So, the current M102w printer at $120 is a little over 1% of the price of the 1984 device, and it comes with substantially higher performance characteristics.
However, when we compare the total cost of ownership (TCO) in 1984 for a LaserJet printer and in 2018 for a M102w LaserJet Pro, an interesting picture emerges.
In equivalent 2018 dollars, and as illustrated in example B above, the LaserJet, during 4 years of printing an average of 1,500 pages per month, had a TCO of around $14,000 or 1.7x the inflation adjusted purchase price. The M102w printer (using OEM brand replacement cartridges) has a TCO (Example C) of just over $3,000 (75% less in equivalent dollars) but, that TCO now represents over 17x the original purchase cost.
In other words, the cost of the equipment has fallen at a much higher rate (99%) than the cost to print a page (47%). Note, in making this comparison, it's important the cost per page metric is considered, not the cost per cartridge because the page yield of the cartridge has been reduced by nearly 50% (1,600) compared to the original LaserJet cartridge with 3,000 pages. So, although the M102w cartridge cost is 70% lower in equivalent dollars, the cost per page is only 47% lower.
Perception of Risk with Re-manufactured CartridgesBack in 1984, the ratio of the cost of the ink and toner cartridges to the cost of the machine was around 3% whereas today it's 55%. Over a projected 4-year lifetime, the ratio of the total cost of ownership (TCO) to the initial purchase cost was 1.7 and is now 17.5. Far more is spent nowadays on replacement cartridges in relation to the initial cost of the machine.
Back in 1984, it was understandable that owners of relatively expensive printing equipment would be less likely to take a perceived risk with their equipment they may have believed they would be taking with the use of third-party replacement cartridges. The perceived risk meant putting a piece of equipment that cost $8,500 (in today's dollars) potentially in harms way.
Today, in our comparative example, the printer investment potentially at risk is a little over $100. Because this upfront investment for an entry level printer is virtually insignificant compared to the amount that had to be invested in the 1980s, the perception of risk resulting from the use of lower cost third-party cartridges is also virtually eliminated.
Of course, not all printers are as inexpensive as $120. Higher-end machines with much higher duty cycles cost a lot more than the lower-end machines. So, just like it was the case back in the mid-1980s, it's still more likely for a consumer to be concerned about the use of third-party consumables on a printer that may have cost five or ten thousand (2018) dollars than one that cost a little over $100!
However, the sophistication of the aftermarket manufacturers and the quality of their products are at a very different level compared to when the remanufacturing industry emerged in the late 1980s.
Improving Quality of Aftermarket Options
When the HP LaserJet came to market in 1984 there were no alternatives available in terms of replacement toner cartridges. The only option was the $100 original brand cartridge from Hewlett Packard.
This situation led to the development of a cottage industry which spotted the opportunity to offer refilled toner cartridges at significantly lower prices than new OEM brand cartridges. However, the trouble was, a big trade was required in terms of a reduction in printing quality and reliability that came with the refilled cartridge and its lower price point. In those early days of the emerging market for laser printers (later followed by ink-jet printers) there were few high-quality sources of parts and supplies necessary to support high-quality aftermarket ink and toner products.
Over the intervening 30+ years, this situation has changed dramatically. Millions of dollars have been invested globally into technologies for producing high-quality remanufactured and new-build compatible cartridges. No longer does a consumer have to rely exclusively on high-priced OEM brand cartridges to replenish its printers.
Original Equipment Manufacturers
Anyone familiar with the OEM managed print programs may already know that the OEMs provide aftermarket printer cartridges to fulfill their contract obligations on third-party equipment under their management. Clearly, for example, if an OEM such as Lexmark wins a managed print account that includes non-Lexmark equipment (i.e. HP), then they're not going to go to HP to try and buy original brand HP cartridges. Instead, they (Lexmark) go to a reputable aftermarket manufacturer and purchase aftermarket cartridges to fit on the HP machines. This type of practice, although not widely publicized, adds additional credibility to high-quality aftermarket ink & toner products available from reputable manufacturers.
Consumer Purchasing Habits
Today's consumers have access to far more information than they did 30 years ago and many have become comfortable making informed decisions with regards to less expensive third-party product offerings than they used to be. The trade-off, in terms accepting reduced quality for a reduced price is no longer required, with the performance of aftermarket products manufactured by reputable aftermarket suppliers being virtually indistinguishable from that of the original brand products.
Aftermarket brands have gained traction in many other industries including pharmaceuticals, auto parts, and food products. Consumers have demonstrated they're prepared to ingest private label medicines and private label food products, and they've demonstrated they're prepared to repair their automobiles with aftermarket parts. After more than thirty-years of ink and laser printing, most still currently elect to spend more than 17 times the initial investment required to acquire their printing equipment, on the supplies required to run them over a 4-year period.
For informed consumers who decide to replenish their printing equipment with high-quality aftermarket alternatives, the TCO can be reduced by nearly 40% and the ratio of the initial investment to TCO reduced from 17 to around 10!
Introducing aftermarket ink and toner products as an alternative to high-priced OEM brand cartridges results in cost savings and an overall improvement of the managed spend. This, in turn, can form a significant component of the overall transformation from a traditional to a digital office.
It's not too difficult to understand why original brand (OEM) ink and toner cartridges are so expensive. There are many similar business models outside the office products industry where a piece of platform equipment is sold to a consumer at a low cost and the manufacturer then generates an ongoing, very profitable revenue stream selling consumables for the equipment.
The equipment cannot continue to be used without replacement consumables because the supplies provided with the initial purchase will soon be depleted. Unless replacement consumables are then purchased, the initial investment becomes worthless.
In order for the manufacturer of the platform equipment to be successful, it must maximize placements (sales) of its equipment. In order to accomplish this goal, it usually decides to set the sell price as low as possible because more consumers are inclined to purchase a low-priced product than a high-priced product. The more devices sold, the larger the installed base becomes and the greater the manufacturers potential for generating profits on the sale of replacement consumables.
Manufacturers deploying business models like this may sell the platform unit below its actual cost with the expectation that initial losses will be recovered through the future sale of replacement consumables. Furthermore, if the manufacturer is the only supplier of replacement consumables designed to fit in the platform device, a relatively high selling price can be set for them because the manufacturer knows the consumer doesn't have alternatives.
Most consumers tend to overlook the calculations needed to determine the total cost of ownership associated with a new device. In order for them to do so, the total cost calculation must include the initial outlay on the device, the cost of consumables for the expected lifetime, and the cost of any extended service or repair warranties.
Let's consider a desktop ink jet printer like the Epson Workforce Pro WF-4720. It can be purchased for around $100, a two-year extended warranty can be purchased for an additional $35, and the printer comes with a set of starter cartridges. Let's also assume the buyer expects the device to last for five years and will be printing an average of 500 monochrome and 250 color pages per month.
The upfront investment required to obtain this device (including a 2-year extended warranty) is a modest $135 but, it will only be 54 days before the black ink cartridge runs out and only 24 days after that before the color cartridges also run out. At those time points the customer must then go back into the market to purchase replacements ink cartridges. The consumer should be diligent because Epson makes two different cartridge styles available for this particular printing device; standard yield and high yield versions which result in a large difference in the operating costs.
Anyone who's prepared to do some mental arithmetic can quickly determine the high-yield cartridges have the lowest printing cost per page and this metric is what determines the total cost of ownership over the expected 5-year lifespan.
What can be seen from this analysis is that the total cost of ownership can vary by almost 100% depending on the style of cartridges chosen.
Let's think a moment about the buyer's psychology when considering the purchase of replacement cartridges. Remember, the upfront investment was $135 and the first set of replacement cartridges will cost $120 if the buyer selects standard yield versions and $170 if they're high-yield. It's tough for consumers to get their heads around having to spend more than the original device cost just to obtain a replacement set of cartridges. Because of this, fewer are usually prepared to shell out $170 for the High Yield (HY) cartridges than $120 for the Standard Yield (SY) versions, which must also mean the math to calculate the cost per page isn't generally being done.
Over the planned five-year lifespan, the cost of this oversight adds up and results in more than 24-times the initial investment in the printer being spent on replacement cartridges.
However, for the consumer who does do the math and overcomes the psychological barrier for spending almost twice the initial investment on their first set of replacement cartridges, and then continues to do for the lifetime of the printer, the total cost of ownership is halved to 12-times the initial investment. This is still a significant spend but only 50% of what it would otherwise have been.
Think about how the decision was initially arrived at to purchase this particular device. Most likely the modest initial investment of $135 was a primary consideration but it's also likely that, while attracted by the low entry cost, not much thought was given to figure out the total cost of ownership. Furthermore, because it's quite difficult (and therefore rare) to calculate the total cost of ownership, it's also rare to be in a position to compare the preferred device with alternatives and, therefore, it's also rare that a fully informed decision can be made on the basis of lifetime costs.
For example, what if there were an alternative $235 printing device, that met the customer's requirements, but it came with cartridges that had 30% lower costs per printed page? The extra $100 investment in the printer would be more than offset with lifetime savings of $1,000 on SY cartridges, or $500 on HY cartridges. Unfortunately, not many consumers do this math so they cannot understand spending 50% more at the outset could save over 30% on the total cost of ownership.
As we've seen, printing in the office or home can become quite an expense. In our example, the printer is expected to output 45,000 pages over its lifetime, a percentage of which will be trashed and the remainder of which will be filed away and, in most cases, never looked at again.
For a business really looking to understand its total cost of ownership, it's not just the cost to print all the pages, it's also the cost of the resources required to file, and then potentially retrieve, a portion of those documents needed at a later time for some reason.
Finally, it's really important, when considering a new printing device investment to make sure the machine is correctly "sized" for its purpose. There's no need to over-invest in a device with a work cycle of say 20,000 pages per month, when the maximum demand expected to be placed on it is 5,000 pages per month. Over-specifying increases the upfront costs and increases the total cost of ownership.
Focusing on making the most informed decision with regards to selecting the optimal printing device for your requirements forms an important element of the transformation from a Traditional to a Digital Office environment. There are significant potential savings to take advantage of that come hand-in-hand with a successful transformation.