Building Business Performance and Equity through Supplier Diversity

April 06, 2021     

For Bristol Myers Squibb, supplier diversity is as much about promoting equity beyond the business as driving business performance within it. Established 25 years ago, our supplier diversity program has intentionally expanded over time from a U.S. effort to a global imperative with initiatives in places such as the U.K., Ireland and Brazil. 

Doing business with diverse-owned suppliers helps keep our company on the cutting edge of innovative products and services that benefit patients, while helping the businesses thrive in ways that create jobs and other positive economic impacts, including economic development of underserved communities hard hit by systemic injustices. 

But achieving supplier diversity in a practical way does not just happen on its own. The effort must be intentional and supported by a resourced infrastructure. The effort also requires senior-level endorsement and a dedicated leader to run it.  

“Our supplier diversity program has not only made Bristol Myers Squibb better able to compete in the marketplace and discover, develop and deliver breakthrough therapies for patients in the U.S. and around the globe, it has made us a more inclusive and open-minded company and a more attractive place for the best and brightest to build their careers,” says Rondu Vincent, Executive Director, Global Supplier Diversity and Sustainability. 

At its core, “supplier diversity is about economic parity, economic equilibrium, job creation and lifting up people and the communities they live in,” Rondu says. “Our partnership with diverse suppliers can have an ongoing and meaningful ripple effect far beyond our organization and across communities, over time and in support of a much greater good.”   

Bristol Myers Squibb has also demonstrated the meaningful impact of our partnership as we worked to support our communities through two devastating moments in recent history. In 2017, Hurricane Maria caused catastrophic destruction to our Humacao site in Puerto Rico. Without being asked, small and minority-owned suppliers Caguas Mechanical Contractors assembled a crew of workers and helped remove debris and re-construct the site, while another, Empire Gas, helped us remove a dangerous propane leak to secure our site. The speed with which both our suppliers responded to our needs helped us restore production of our medicines within weeks and allowed us to continue our mission of serving patients. 

Supporting diverse suppliers brings together communities not only in times of crisis but every single day. In other words, it makes us stronger together.

Last year, we were able to pay it forward and help suppliers and other businesses hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

One was woman- and minority-owned business Ice Safety Solutions, a company which offers safety training and equipment and is led by CEO and President Pamela Isom. When the pandemic disrupted her business, Pamela pivoted to offering personal protective equipment. We immediately placed an order which allowed Pamela to purchase stock to fulfill Bristol Myers Squibb’s order and those of other customers, including frontline workers such as fire and police departments. Eventually she was able to rehire staff, pay rent and restock. 

Experiences like these not only have an impact on those businesses and their communities, but on our company as well. We value our partnerships—so when a supplier does well, we do too. 

Our Supplier Diversity team also runs an outreach program called Power2Impact to connect directly with the communities we serve, especially the underserved and underrepresented. The team has held numerous successful community outreach events, impacting thousands of individuals through donation of clothing and food, co-sponsorship of STEM education and careers programs for middle school students and homeless teens and adults across the country, many in conjunction with supplier diversity events. 

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