All these recommendations have been proven effective, showing that managers today are more willing to reexamine their assumptions about supplier diversity programs. Taking the kind of strategic approach that Japanese automakers used to build their U.S. supplier bases and adapting supply chain processes tailored to minority- and women-owned businesses would result in clear economic and business benefits. It would create qualified suppliers of enough scale and scope to produce jobs, foster innovations that lower costs and raise quality, and broaden the base of business leadership. Such a focus represents good business — not just businesses trying to be good.
Reprint No. 08402
Tim Laseter holds visiting appointments at various leading business schools, including the London Business School, the Darden School at the University of Virginia, and the Tuck School at Dartmouth College. He is the author of Balanced Sourcing (Jossey-Bass, 1998) and coauthor, with Ron Kerber, of Strategic Product Creation (McGraw-Hill, 2007). Formerly a partner with Booz & Company, he has more than 20 years of experience in operations strategy.
Greg Fairchild teaches at the Darden School’s MBA and Executive Education programs. His research, which has received several awards, including a MacArthur Foundation grant, focuses on entrepreneurship and economic growth, with emphasis on emerging domestic markets. Before joining the Darden faculty in 2000, Fairchild taught at Columbia University, worked in brand management for both Procter & Gamble and Kraft General Foods, and was a department manager for Saks Fifth Avenue.