Welcome to the first episode of Intentionality with Dominique with your host Dominique Simpson Milton, sponsored by Altria and The Carolinas-Virginia Minority Supplier Development Council. In today’s segment, we are joined by Lisa Blake, Senior Manager of Supplier Diversity and Inclusion at Altria.
The mission of this show is to improve the success rate of entrepreneurs and show them how to become valued and in demand suppliers in the marketplace so they can scale their business.
Embracing Intentionality in Business
Statistics reveal a harsh reality: most businesses falter within their first five years. To beat the odds, entrepreneurs must be intentional in their approach. As Dominique puts it, “we must be intentional to gain knowledge, skills, and connections that will improve the probability of success in business.” This means actively seeking out resources, education, and networks that can propel your business forward.
The Power of Supplier Diversity and Inclusion
Lisa Blake, Senior Manager of Supplier Diversity and Inclusion at Altria, shared invaluable insights on how Altria has leveraged supplier diversity to enhance competitiveness, innovation, and flexibility in their supply chain. By embedding supplier diversity into the company’s DNA, Altria has shown that inclusivity is not just the right thing to do, it’s a business imperative.
“Supplier diversity and inclusion is woven into the fabric of who we are,” Lisa states, underscoring the significance of diversity in fostering innovation. The diverse perspectives brought to the table can redefine a product or service, making it more appealing to a broader audience, and in turn, more profitable.
A Vision for a Smoke-Free Future
Altria’s vision to lead the transition of adult smokers to a smoke-free future is a bold example of how a company can pivot its mission towards a healthier paradigm while remaining profitable. Their supplier diversity program isn’t just about meeting quotas or ticking boxes—it’s about engaging diverse suppliers that align with the company’s transformative vision.
Building a Successful Supplier Diversity Program
Lisa Blake’s approach to amplifying supplier diversity at Altria offers a blueprint for other corporations. By creating an internal brand around the initiative and developing four key pillars—diverse supplier strategy, tier two strategy, internal engagement, and compliance—Altria has cultivated a robust program that not only supports diverse suppliers but also enhances the company’s overall success.
The Economic Impact of Intentionality
The conversation with Lisa Blake reveals an important truth: supplier diversity has a tangible economic impact. Supporting diverse suppliers isn’t just about social responsibility—it’s about stimulating the economy. “A dollar invested in a diverse supplier puts a dollar and seventy-two cents back into the economy,” Dominique emphasizes, highlighting the far-reaching benefits of intentional investment in diversity.
- Adopt Intentionality as Your Business Compass: Approach every aspect of your business with purpose and clarity to navigate the complexities of entrepreneurship.
- Champion Supplier Diversity: Embrace supplier diversity not only as a moral choice but as a strategic business decision that can elevate your competitiveness and innovation.
- Align with a Bigger Vision: Like Altria, align your business goals with larger societal shifts to stay relevant and impactful.
- Measure and Reflect: Continuously evaluate your business strategies and the impact of your diversity initiatives, just as Altria does, to ensure progress and identify areas for growth.
- Be Patient and Persistent: Recognize that success, especially when it involves shifting corporate culture or societal norms, takes time and unwavering commitment.
Visit cvmsdc.org for more resources on supplier diversity and to connect with a community dedicated to intentional business growth. Remember, in the words of Dominique Simpson Milton, “we must always, always remain intentional to gain knowledge, skills, and connections so we can grow and thrive in business.”