Some four years ago, UPS decided to restructure its corporate approach to Procurement, including a major redesign of its Supplier Diversity program, and then two years ago, recommitted itself to fight for equity using the full resources of the company. Already among the most visible and committed corporate partners in the GMSDC family, the global transportation and logistics leader sought to reinvigorate its entire corporate culture to place an even greater emphasis on Supplier Diversity and the company’s ‘responsibility to help build safer, stronger and more resilient communities founded on justice and economic opportunity for all.’ The progress since then is nothing short of extraordinary, as UPS has reimagined its approach to DEI from top to bottom. The culture shift in progress is remarkable for a $100 billion company with more than half a million employees delivering 25 million packages per day in 220 countries, but UPS is fully committed to ‘moving our world forward by delivering what matters.’ Such a transformation – of a 100-year-old company – could be compared to turning an aircraft carrier, but that is exactly what our dynamic corporate partner headquartered in Sandy Springs is doing.
Leading the charge in Supplier Diversity is the corporate Vice President, Global Supplier Diversity, Kris Oswold, a veteran of more than three decades of service at UPS. Since taking the reins of the program in 2018, Oswold has played a major role in leveraging the C-Suite commitment to diversity and inclusion and turning it into tangible progress. Fully supported by the appointment of Charlene Thomas as the EVP and Chief DEI Officer at UPS, the company has elevated its outreach to four primary constituent groups – employees, customers, suppliers and communities. Executive commitment has driven new levels of accountability, including new measurement scorecards that give Supplier Diversity an equal footing with other traditional measures of procurement performance. “The response across our system to our increased focus on supplier diversity has been phenomenal,” says Oswold, who has revamped her entire team to bring in the skillsets and company experience necessary to move the needle. “We are seeing a notable increase in the engagement levels of decision makers, as leaders embrace the corporate vision for supply chain excellence, and the momentum is still building. What is particularly impressive is that in the last four years, while tripling its spend with diverse suppliers, the UPS Procurement function has exceeded its savings and working capital goals as well. Our procurement teams and stakeholders increasingly understand that diversity is the solution to our challenges, and a strategy for reaching our goals.”
One of the strategic programs UPS has implemented is UPS Ignite, a unique coaching and mentoring initiative for both suppliers and customers that has just graduated its first cohort. Co-developed by the UPS Supplier Diversity and Diverse Segment Marketing teams, UPS Ignite provides multiple tiers of support that range from access to online resources through a full set of classes at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, all guided by mentor relationships focused on helping both suppliers and customers to grow their businesses. UPS has placed a significant emphasis on engaging company leaders outside of procurement in the many supplier diversity boards and organizations UPS supports, thereby driving a fuller understanding of supplier diversity’s value and impact in operational areas of the business, which facilitates greater levels of engagement and commitment. The company culture now understands that it is everyone’s job to make sure the UPS supply chain is fully inclusive.
Already an award-winning Supplier Diversity leader, UPS continues to receive numerous honors and awards. Most recently, the company was honored twice by the prestigious World Procurement Organization…UPS was presented with the Procurement Excellence Award, while CPO Jose Turkienicz was named CPO of the Year. Oswold’s commitment to developing from within has led to organizational changes and staffing decisions that have brought invaluable institutional knowledge into Supplier Diversity, ensuring a long and successful outreach effort. For more information or to sign up to become a UPS supplier, visit the UPS Supplier Diversity web site. Thank you, UPS, for setting a standard for supplier diversity excellence, and reminding us that even the best can still get better.