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 UPS’ Oswold Uncovers & Communicates the Hidden Value of Supplier Diversity

Headquartered in Atlanta, GA, UPS is a global leader in logistics. It offers a broad range of solutions, including transporting packages and freight, facilitating international trade, and deploying advanced technology to more efficiently manage the world of business.
Serving more than 220 countries and territories, UPS ranks high among the world’s companies, receiving numerous prestigious awards and recognitions for social responsibility while remaining steadfast in its belief of and participation in promoting a policy of supplier diversity.
According to Kris Oswold, director of supplier diversity, UPS actively seeks to work with suppliers who reflect the diverse markets they serve. “Building an inclusive supply chain is a business strategy that can bring great returns, as diverse suppliers provide expertise and development in the communities we serve,” she states.
It was this perspective that inspired the 1992 formal launch of the supplier diversity program at UPS - one that remains true today.
“Last year the company was again recognized by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) for its commitment to working with Hispanic suppliers, and we are proud of this acknowledgement and hope we inspire others,” she states.
While the UPS diversity and inclusion (D&I) steering committee, chaired by chairman and CEO David Abney, sets policies and overall direction, and ensures that the organization is ready to act in support of its D&I mission, the UPS procurement team and functional stakeholders are tasked with executing the strategy and achieving detailed company-wide goals.
“It’s important to think of supplier diversity in the same way we think about diversity in employment,” says Oswold, remarking that this shouldn’t be one person’s job. “Everyone who’s involved in finding, selecting and developing suppliers must be engaged. Once you understand the power that diversity and inclusion can bring to any problem-solving situation, the places where you can unleash that power becomes clear.”
Oswold is also quick to point out that diverse suppliers must win contracts on the basis of merit. “We work hard to find and help develop diverse suppliers, but to win our business suppliers must deliver the best value to UPS,” she states.
One way UPS develops diverse suppliers is to tailor programming to specific business needs. With an abundance of expertise in transportation, UPS leaders are uniquely positioned to coach and mentor diverse suppliers in this space. “A cross-functional team currently works with a group of minority-owned businesses to help reduce their transactional fuel and equipment costs,” she remarks, adding, “When their costs come down, ours do, as well.
Additionally, each year a third-party organization is engaged to access the economic impact of UPS purchases from small and diverse-owned companies.
“The $2.8 billion spent during 2018 returned a total economic output of $4.8 billion,” reports Oswold, suggesting that when small and diverse communities thrive, they provide a pathway for continued economic and community strength
 As a company that transports 6% of GDP daily, contributing to economic growth is good for business at UPS. Studies further indicate that companies desire to work with businesses that share their values.
“The core values of diversity and inclusion impel many UPS customers to seek companies and employees who share its perspectives,” she points out.
When asked for her advice regarding the implementation of supplier diversity programs by other companies, Oswold emphasizes the importance of understanding all of the ways diverse perspectives can bring value to an organization, and then advises working with stakeholders to develop strategies and maximize that value.
“When putting a plan in place, talk about how to find, certify. and grow diverse suppliers. and ensure all parties understand their responsibilities,” recommends Oswold. “To achieve meaningful change from the start, your strategy must be understood and supported throughout your organization.”
More information about UPS is available at ups.com/us/en/about/procurement-services.page, jobs-ups.com, ups.com, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Glassdoor and Instagram.
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