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The Business Case of Supplier Diversity

Updated: Jul 22, 2021

By Jennifer Bessell

NLOWE has long championed supplier diversity and has worked hard to ensure that government and businesses understand the advantages of a diverse supply chain. Equally, we have worked with women entrepreneurs in both services-based and product-based sectors to explore opportunities to act as suppliers for larger corporate and government agencies.

Certification is an asset in supplier competitions. A woman-owned business that achieves certification demonstrates that 51 percent or more of the business is owned by women and that women comprise the leadership of the business. For more information about certification, contact WBE Canada and/or WEConnect International.

What is supplier diversity? The goal of supplier diversity is to help diverse-owned vendors (businesses owned by minorities, such as women or Indigenous people) become suppliers to corporations and governments. In Canada, women-owned businesses make up less than five percent of all domestic and international suppliers to corporations and governments. Globally, this figure decreases to less than one percent. This represents a vast area for potential growth for women entrepreneurs.

Why is supplier diversity so important? Women own 47 percent of all small and medium-sized enterprises. Effective supplier diversity programs allow women-owned businesses to access large contract opportunities that in turn will help them to grow and scale their businesses, to grow their customer base by creating business-to-business partnerships, and to gain a marketing advantage through association with larger business enterprises.

For corporations and government, the benefits are also well documented. Supplier diversity often results in reduced operating costs and increased profit, drives innovation, enhances brand recognition, and wins loyal customers with spending power. Small and medium enterprises are likely more agile and can respond to changing demands and work parameters to provide more efficient service to corporations. These results are among the reasons 80 percent of multinational corporations have supplier diversity programs.

In 2015, NLOWE launched SupplierDiversityNL—a website dedicated to bringing women-owned businesses and corporations together. We are pleased to announce that in 2021 the website has undergone a complete refresh, with a bold new look and quality resources to assist women entrepreneurs in learning more about how to tap into corporate opportunities. In the winter of 2021, NLOWE will develop a full calendar of activities to promote use of the website as a tool for corporations to reach out to women-owned businesses.

We want to see the world’s largest companies embrace the significant resources and knowledge currently left untapped. Our goal is to diversify the pool of suppliers that corporations choose from and to encourage more women-owned businesses to put themselves forward for larger contracts. Help us make this happen—register your business today!


Jennifer Bessell

Jennifer Bessell is the Chief Executive Officer at NLOWE.  Jennifer is also the current Vice-Chair of the Women’s Enterprise Organizations of Canada (WEOC), a volunteer with Junior Achievement of NL, a board member with Women in Science and Engineering Newfoundland and Labrador (WISE-NL), and a member of the Women Presidents Organization (WPO).  Jennifer is passionate about lifelong learning and helping others achieve success in their professional endeavours.  She considers coaching and mentoring a responsibility of leadership. Jennifer is driven to help women and youth realize their potential and be successful in their journey as entrepreneurs.

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