Over your lifetime in corporate America, I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “work smarter, not harder” an impressive amount of times. We’ve even heard plays on it as seen in one of our latest blog posts like “work harder & smarter”.

How often is this phrase used sarcastically though? You make a silly mistake like ordering your Starbucks through the drive-thru line each morning instead of saving your custom choice of delicious espresso beans for a pick-up order.

This is frequently used when it comes to making the most of the effort you’re already putting in for a project/task, or simply creating more time and space when it comes to repetitive tasks for more strategic thinking. So, let’s relate this to diverse spend. Here are a few tips on how to work smarter, not harder when it comes to creating and getting credit for the work your organization is already doing.


1. Utilizing the “Low-Hanging Fruit”

Your employees, while very worth the investment, are often a large burden on any organization financially. On average, companies spend 30-50% of their revenue on employees through salary and benefits. This creates a very easy and consistent way to bring in minority spend. Partnering with organizations who not only bring in minority spend for you but also are trusted experts in the space (wink, wink) can alleviate multiple pain points for your organization. You can read more about that here:

Payroll 101: The Basics

3 Ways to Maximize Your Contingent Labor Program

Navigating Contingent Labor: Employer of Record vs. Staffing Agency


2. It Only Counts if You Can Prove it!

How long have you spend scrolling through your google photo’s trying to find that one magical picture of Taylor Swift looking directly into your soul from the stage? While looking, your friends are staring at you thinking “mhmm, sure that happened…”.

The same can happen to you if you aren’t effectively tracking your diverse spend. Finding ways to consolidate your spend data across the entire organization, for example, is a key to running an effective supplier diversity program. This will allow you to organize your company and it’s goals around supplier category, location and even spend category. Not to mention, cataloging your suppliers diverse certificates should you need to prove those dollars when it comes to different recognition or organizations like the Billion Dollar Roundtable.

This is an area where we have been able to help our customers, by providing reporting on what spend is coming through Populus Group in various departments. This has been especially helpful for larger organizations who have independent entities within the broader company.


3. Plan for Success!

With every path to growth comes the cliché “SMART”. While to some it may be an overused acronym that everyone somehow knows but doesn’t actually know at the same time, it has stood the test of time. Creating specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely goals really does make the difference. Simply saying “we’re going to grow in diverse suppliers this year” will only get you facing in the right direction, not actually making movement.

Do an audit of your current suppliers. Everything from technology, professional services (wink, wink again), to your office supplies. Who are you working with? Do their values align with your organizations? Are they minority or diverse-owned companies that you are already in contact with but maybe not tracking (see #2)? Look at upcoming contract renewals, do you have the time to make a plan of action and intentional switch to a local, diverse business instead of the big box office vendors? Maybe you want to increase your diverse spend with 1 shift in each supply base categories?

The opposite to my original statement is also true, you can’t go from having zero intentionality around your supplier diversity program to saying by the end of the fiscal year you’ll be the leader of your industry. Start with what you have, do an audit of easy opportunities and then scale for larger shifts and changes. The worst thing you can do is let your DEI initiatives become a flavor-of-the-month style program. Commit and plan for success.


4. Collaborating with Your Community

Something that we at Populus Group have done is dig into opportunities within our communities. Whether that is inside one of our certification organizations, our industry or customer base. We’ve taken the time to share knowledge with each other, work together where possible and even pass vendors along to another company we know is in the market.

I think that a lot of times we see a large, complex problem and think we have to figure out how to see into a blackhole, when in reality what we need to get started (and often times make a huge impact) is right in front of us. Find your local NMSDC chapter and reach out to them. They have a large list of every company that holds a membership within their region and can often section that out by industry. They’re also a great resource to follow to keep up with the current advancements or strategies when it comes to partnering with diverse owned businesses.

Long story long, there are a lot of ways that you can impact your organizations diverse spend. Populus Group has been so grateful to be trusted by so many individuals and organizations to help them meet their diverse spend goals through our payroll, IC, immigration, MSP, IT project services and other solutions. Many of them our customers have landed themselves on the Billion Dollar Roundtable and we really can’t be more honored to help accelerate that process for them.

Companies who genuinely have a desire to assist in closing the economic gap are making huge strides and changes in our society as a whole. We hope that wherever you are at in your journey that this year is a year of growth and transformation. We’re here to help and make it an easier road for you, too!