- Unilever is partnering with MSDUK — a U.K.-based organization focused on making procurement and supply chains more diverse and inclusive — to support ethnic minority-owned businesses in making corporate connections, the organizations announced Wednesday.
- The partnership supports an accelerator program aimed at assisting 300 minority businesses in making relationships with corporations. Google, Dow and WPP are also program sponsors.
- The accelerator program is part of Unilever's new Supplier Development Programme and aims to provide skills, financing, and networking opportunities to under-represented groups, Alexandra Tarmo, head of partnerships and social procurement at Unilever, said in an email.
"This initiative is less about increasing the number of our suppliers, but rather about ensuring we work with more diverse suppliers," Tarmo said.
Unilever currently has roughly 60,000 suppliers, and a goal to spend 2 billion euros ($2.4 billion) of its annual supplier budget with diverse suppliers by 2025. As of January 2021, Unilever spent 350 million euros with diverse suppliers, according to Tarmo.
The Supplier Development Programme is a global initiative by Unilever to increase supplier diversity. Already in progress in the U.S. and Australia, Unilever launched the program in the U.K. in 2021.
Last year, company initiatives sprung up to add diversity to supply chains amid public calls to deepen ties with diverse and minority-owned businesses in response to the racial equity and social justice movement.
Companies such as Target, Papa John's and Denny's created investment plans, worked on recently formed initiatives and leaned into long-standing supplier programs to achieve overall diversity, equity and inclusion goals. And Coupa's initiative to connect corporations and diverse suppliers last year tapped into the company's nearly $2 trillion platform network to foster industry inclusivity for minority suppliers.
Unilever's collaboration with MSDUK is a continuation of the trend, prioritizing the need for ethnic minority businesses in corporate supply chains.
"A big societal issue is the lack of economic ownership by these diverse groups; we want to address this," Tarmo said.
The accelerator program offers diverse suppliers mentoring opportunities from MSDUK member organizations, workshops and specialized support packages to get the U.K. suppliers ready to capitalize on opportunities with large businesses. The program, which is currently open for submissions until August 30, will start in October.
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