How Do You Develop Diverse Suppliers? Best Practices From KeyBank

January 5, 2014 3:16 pm
Bruce Murphy, KeyBank


How do companies that have strong supplier-diversity numbers take their vendor relationships to the next level? For KeyBank, a division of KeyCorp (one of DiversityInc’s 25 Noteworthy Companies and one of DiversityInc’s Top 10 Companies for Supplier Diversity), an innovative first-time event for its Real Estate Division’s Top 30 vendors provided these best practices:

• Feature top executives, not only procurement/supplier-diversity leaders. This shows that supplier diversity is a corporate priority and allows vendors to hear from individuals they might not otherwise meet.

The KeyBank event was hosted by the company’s Corporate Real Estate Solutions, Corporate Responsibility and Procurement divisions, and was kicked off by Bruce Murphy, Executive Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility, and a direct report to KeyCorp Chairman and CEO Beth Mooney.

The group also heard from Mike Toth, Chief Procurement Officer; Poppie Parish, Senior Vice President of Corporate Responsibility and head of KeyBank’s Supplier Diversity initiative; and senior leaders from the Corporate Real Estate division.

Dozens of top executives from KeyBank also were present. There were 85 attendees in total, representing the top vendor group as well as two not-for-profit associations, the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) and the Northern Ohio Minority Supplier Development Council (NOMSDC). The event was promoted through invitations sent to the top vendors as well as to contacts of BOMA and NOMSDC.

Eowyn Adams, General Manager for Sodexo, No. 1 in the DiversityInc Top 50 and a supplier that provides Tier II (subcontractor) spend to KeyBank, noted that while she works with numerous KeyBank contacts daily, she found the exposure to senior leadership the most valuable aspect of the event. “It was interesting for us, as a partner to KeyBank, to hear from the top level, face-to-face, not just reading a statement on a Web page—their goals, their philosophy of the company, and how we can align ourselves with that,” Adams said.

For M. Don Carthorn, President and CEO of ASAP Company, part of a joint-venture MBE that supplies office furniture to KeyBank, the senior-leadership participation gave him more incentive to provide the best services. “Beth Mooney’s commitment was represented very well,” he said. “They have a total commitment to creating, pursuing and sustaining diversity in the marketplace. In return, we have to be prepared to bring our goods and services to the company at a level commensurate with that commitment and those expectations.”

• Communicate the corporate values that are important for suppliers to share.

“When clients see one of our vendors, they don’t look at them and say that’s a contractor—they see Key,” said Richard Estremera, Senior Vice President, National Business Operations and Critical Sites, and the organizer of the event. “So if they don’t have the same values that we have, there’s a disconnect. In addition, we call ourselves a community bank, so at the end of the day, we need to support and reflect our community.”

Supplier Diversity and Sustainability are two pillars under KeyBank’s Corporate Responsibility platform. Estremera said one of the messages vendors took from the event was that a commitment to both is expected of KeyBank vendors. Supplier-diversity spend (both Tier I and Tier II) represented 18 percent of KeyBank’s total procurement spend in 2012, and the bank also has more than 100 Energy Star locations, 14 LEED-certified bank branches, and three LEED Platinum facilities (the highest rating available for designation of green buildings).

• Include large suppliers (that provide Tier II spend) that can provide best practices.

Sodexo provides food service and catering at three KeyBank locations. Darlene Fuller, Senior Director, Supplier Diversity for Sodexo, and Adams gave a best-practices presentation, including a discussion of a new initiative—mentoring circles for diverse suppliers—which has grown out of Sodexo’s resource groups.

Turner Construction, another large KeyBank supplier that builds bank branches, presented its active pursuit of diverse vendors, including bricklayers, waste haulers and electrical installers, that has yielded 38 percent to 49 percent diversity spend per site. Turner also shared its strong emphasis on sustainability, including the importance of documenting actions like recycling materials from buildings that were torn down to build Key branches. This recycling can then be credited to Key for its sustainability reporting.

• Provide ample opportunities for networking and potential business development.

Carthorn noted that he sat next to an executive from Turner Construction and was able to learn more about that company’s approach, which has yielded such high supplier-diversity numbers all over the country. Sodexo’s Fuller said a number of MBEs and WBEs approached her to let her know about the services they could provide to Sodexo.