How mentorship can help you build a more diverse supply chain

Serving as a true partner can make your operations more resilient


5 minute read

Key takeaways

  • Both mentoring suppliers and partnering with them can improve the success of your supplier diversity program
  • Advising suppliers on how to build their capacity and infrastructure and accelerating payments can help strengthen suppliers
  • Mentorship and partnership can help you expand your pipeline of firms that have the ability to meet your needs and grow with you


Many companies now recognize that diversifying a company’s supply chain can bring business benefits such as greater competition between suppliers, new procurement channels and innovation — and contribute to the local economy. As your company deepens its commitment to diversifying its supply chain, mentoring and partnering with minority-owned firms will be essential.


The first step to doing so is benchmarking where you stand relative to industry peers and setting targets, tapping resources such as the National Minority Supplier Development Council, the Minority Business Development Agency and the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce. As you work toward your goals, reaching out to regional and national business councils, chambers of commerce and business incubators to let them know you’re seeking such partnerships, and holding your own open house, can speed up your progress. “Many business owners who have ‘been there’ find that they can truly serve as great mentors and partners in offering their subject matter expertise,” says Bank of America Business Banking Southeast Region Executive Mark Bennett.


Beyond providing advice and technical support, you can deepen your relationship with suppliers by sharing opportunities to create new solutions for your company. For many owners who have been underrepresented, lack of access to capital is a barrier to this type of business development, so rethinking your payment procedures can be important to ensuring they have the cash flow to respond to your needs and build their capacity and infrastructure.


“Accelerating your payments to them can help unlock much-needed working capital,” says Bennett. “Access to capital is a key component to sustainability and ensuring that minority business enterprises can continue to make an impact in their local community and across the country.” At a time when many companies are looking to improve their supply chain, any steps you take to strengthen your suppliers are an insurance policy in your own business continuity and growth — and in the economy of the community around you.





Mark Bennett | Bank of America Business Banking Southeast Region Executive