By Melissa J. Anderson

This month released its list of the top fifty companies for multicultural business opportunities. The Div50 tracks supply chain diversity – which is an important measure of how inclusive a company really is, says Kenton Clarke, CEO of

“In a marketplace that is increasingly as sensitive to diversity as it is to revenues, awarding the top buyers of multicultural products and services is becoming a natural part of the new socioeconomic food chain. Organizations that consistently buy the most products and services from diversity businesses, and that sustain the most mutually beneficial business relationships with their multicultural suppliers, should be recognized not only by the business community but also by the general public. That is what we have accomplished in creating The Div50.”

The top company on the list providing business opportunities to multicultural businesses was AT&T. Wal-Mart, Dell, Office Depot, and Northrop Grumman rounded out the top five.

Winning Programs

AT&T’s supplier diversity program was implemented in 1968, and according to the company, it spent $6.9 billion with minority, women and disabled veteran owned businesses in 2009.

“It is extremely important to us to work with minority, women, and disabled-veteran enterprises, so it is an honor to be recognized on this prestigious list,” said Marianne Strobel, executive director, AT&T Global Supplier Diversity. “Diverse businesses continue to provide AT&T with innovative products that enable us to deliver the best solutions for our customers.”

Northrop Grumman, another top five company, was included due in part to efforts by its socio-economic business programs division. According to the company, SEBP seeks opportunities to work with “small disadvantaged, women-owned, historically underutilized business zones, veteran, service-disabled veteran-owned, historically black colleges, universities, and minority institutions.”

Last year, the company spent $3.4 billion with small businesses, which amounted to 37% of its total subcontract spending.

Gloria Pualani, corporate director, SEBP, said, “It is great to be ranked in the top five. Northrop Grumman has made a long-lasting commitment to diversity and inclusion in the supply chain, particularly with our small business partners.”

Economic Inclusion

Clarke said, “The diversity practices of the Div50 has changed the course of economic inclusion and thereby the world as we know it.”

He continued, “The great diversity and vision of our country and our people have made this possible. is proud to have been a force in the business world for such positive change and opportunity. The initiative that we have led has been instrumental in equalizing the playing field and for that we are very honored indeed.”

DiversityBusiness is made up of 250,000 member companies, which provide goods and services to the Fortune 1000, government agencies, and colleges.

Companies that utilize services provided by small and multicultural businesses are likely to benefit big in the long term. Recent work by the UK’s Business in the Community illustrates the business case for supply chain diversity.

Jo Daniels, Marketplace Director, BITC, commented, “Since BITC began working with businesses on responsible supply chain management, we’ve seen companies gradually shift from managing risk to proactively seeking opportunities to enhance their positive impacts. Supply chain diversity provides a tangible way for businesses to forge stronger links with communities, whilst at the same time creating business benefits.”

Romeo Effs, group supply chain manager at MITIE, a facilities and property management company, explained, “Diverse suppliers are often smaller, and more agile, and so provide better flexibility in service levels helping to mitigate supply chain risk and volatility.”

Sandra Kerr OBE, National Director, Race for Opportunity campaign, BITC, added, “Strengthening our diverse communities will ultimately contribute to overall economic growth.”

Not only does supplier diversity build communities and win over consumers, but supporting minority communities can also help companies build rapport and support from internal affinity groups, ultimately improving employee engagement, as Texas Diversity Magazine reported.