Accenture Supplier Team Builds Innovative, Value-Added Supplier Inclusion and Sustainability Program.

The remarkable Supplier Inclusion & Sustainability team members at Accenture leverage deep experience in all areas of responsible buying to build and manage a highly successful supplier program. They set the standard for attracting, developing, and including diverse suppliers in global procurement and contracting opportunities. - BY Valerie Gomez

Accenture calls the supplier inclusion & diversity team “rock stars!” for two key reasons. First, this team has deep experience in procurement, sourcing and category management, contract management, marketing design, technology, ESG (environmental, social & governance), and supplier relationship management. Second, team members have applied their expertise to build a superior Global Supplier Inclusion and Sustainability program with proven success and they leverage their expertise to help clients do the same. Accenture as an organization has committed to using its talent and resources to create an inclusive marketplace and build better communities to serve the underserved and underrepresented. The Global Supplier Inclusion and Sustainability Team rock stars are crucial to fulfilling this commitment as they attract, develop, and support diverse suppliers, bringing innovation to clients globally.

Meet the People Who Drive Accenture’s Stellar Supplier Inclusion Program

Every successful supplier diversity effort relies on people with expertise giving a full share of their efforts. At Accenture, five in North America Supplier Inclusion and Sustainability team members are those people.

Nedra Dickson, Managing Director, is the Global Supplier Inclusion & Sustainability Client Lead. With years of experience in procurement, sourcing & category management, and supply chain, she leads the practice in helping clients build, develop, and scale their Supplier Diversity initiatives. Sesley Brown , Senior Manager, is the North America Supplier Inclusion and Sustainability Lead. She leads the award-winning global mentorship program called the Diverse Supplier Development Program (DSDP). Sesley's experience includes contract management, sourcing & category management. Che’ McFerrin, Assoicate Manager, Supplier Inclusion and Sustainability, brings years of supplier diversity expertise in many industries, especially the oil, gas, and energy space that includes supplier development and more. Tatyana Peña, Senior Analyst, Supplier Inclusion and Sustainability, brings analytical and design thinking, marketing, large-scale organizational agility expertise and supplier development. She is leading digital asset training in the mentoring program of the DSDP for North America. Sara Sudeyko, Senior Analyst, Supplier Inclusion and Sustainability, is the newest member in North America. She brings years of experience in procurement in sourcing & Demand Management, supplier development and supplier management.

Each of these leaders is involved in multiple community and/or national organizations that enable them to multiply their efforts. They are active on various boards and councils of advocacy organizations including the WBENC, GWBC, Disability:IN, NAVOBA, NGLCC, NMSDC, HMSDC, GMSDC, CAMSC, CGLCC and WBE Canada, to name a few.

The Secret Sauce of Success

The Supplier Inclusion & Sustainability (SI&S) program guides the team in working with suppliers to promote environmental sustainability, human rights and supplier inclusion & diversity. The program was developed to promote the inclusion of companies owned by people historically excluded from the labor market. Its scope includes minority-ethnic and women-owned businesses, the LGBTIQ+ community, persons with disabilities, veterans, refugees, and people living away from economic centers.

Over 22 years, the SI&S program has grown to operate in 22 countries, relying heavily on its diversity champions. According to Dickson, the U.S. Supplier Inclusion & Sustainability (SI&S) champions have always been the secret sauce for success. Accenture’s (SI&S) team builds authentic relationships with the champions, and in turn, the champions become invested in sharing their experiences with peers around the globe. This allows the creation of more champions in other geographies. The support of champions also drives economic growth and servicing and helps clients buy responsibly in their company supply chains. The SI&S program in the U.S. also lays the foundation for other geographies to learn. The program’s growth philosophy is a global framework with local flavor. Diversity is defined differently in various countries, so the U.S. success stories serve as messages of true value, job economics, and social impact worldwide. There is a ripple effect. Many U.S.-based small and diverse-owned businesses can expand into other countries, taking the formula for success and the message of diversity and inclusion with them but with an understanding that the message needs adaptation and they have to customize the flavor of their market.

Culture of Innovation

Accenture embeds innovation in everything it does with clients worldwide, including in its network of over 100 innovation hubs. Building on 35 years of innovation, Accenture Labs incubates new concepts and applies the latest technologies to deliver breakthrough solutions for business and society. The company also invests at scale. In fiscal 2023, the company made approximately $5 billion in investments: $2.5 billion across 25 acquisitions, $1.3 billion in research and development (R&D), and $1.1 billion in the learning and professional development of the organization’s people.

This is driven by strong leadership from the top. The global CEO believes inclusion and diversity are keys to innovation and essential to business in the digital age. As a result, the Global SI&S team embraces and strengthens the culture of innovation. For example, team members sponsor innovation challenges globally for diverse suppliers. Suppliers are also encouraged to share their innovations in the DSDP mentoring program, beginning with the pitch competition.

Additionally, the supplier diversity team encourages co-innovation among suppliers. For example, the women-owned businesses AP42 and IPCOMM co-innovated on a global Accenture summit delivered to 800 people on four continents over three days. Both WBEs helped create innovative technology to deliver a virtual summit.

Finding and Supporting Quality Women and Diverse Suppliers

Finding quality and diverse suppliers is a process. To raise awareness of the importance of supplier diversity and to attract women and diverse suppliers, the SI&S team members serve on the organization's Global Board, Global Executive Committee, Membership Development Committee, and local Advisory Councils. A commitment to supplier diversity is demonstrated through partnerships with organizations including the Women Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), WBE Canada, WEConnect International and regional councils GWBC and WBENC Metro NYC. These organizations contribute to the ability of Accenture’s team members to find qualified women and diverse suppliers.

Once women and diverse suppliers are on board, the Diverse Supplier Development Program (DSDP) is fully committed to helping them succeed. The DSDP is a formal 12- to 18-month training and mentoring program to develop and expand relationships with diverse suppliers. It offers one-on-one mentoring partnerships between Accenture mentors and diverse suppliers and quarterly symposiums on topics such as marketing, social media, sales, business development, cybersecurity, legal and storytelling. DSDP mentees demonstrate their progress by completing business health assessments and quarterly progress reports throughout the duration of the program. In FY23, DSDP was offered in Australia, Canada, India, South Africa, the United Kingdom & Ireland, and the United States. In FY21, a goal was set to graduate 250 diverse suppliers by the end of fiscal 2023 and as of November 2023, 256 suppliers have graduated the Diverse Supplier Development Program.

The supplier diversity team applied its commitment to innovation to the DSDP programs. They co-invented a digital asset to enable the efficient delivery of DSDP programs, building a Small Medium Enterprise Digital Ecosystem (SME-DE) platform that facilitates easy interaction between SMEs and Accenture. It supports SMEs through the entire DSDP cycle with an automated application selection process, business health assessment for targeted development, business tools, and commercial opportunities.

There is also a robust Tier 2 program, and the supplier diversity team designed a methodology to deliver more than 700 reports on diverse spending to clients every quarter. Data concerning diverse status and certification is verified.

Defining Success

The foundation of Accenture’s success in building a diverse global supply chain is establishing a clearly defined supplier inclusion and diversity program and developing relationships with diverse businesses to ensure they have the information and resources needed to succeed. Suppliers apply what they learn from the DSDP mentoring program to increase the revenue, grow their client base and grow their businesses. Supplier success in the Accenture and client supply chains drives expanded innovation and job growth in local communities.

A team that fosters an ethical procurement strategy reflects Accenture’s core values and Code of Business Ethics (COBE). An ethical procurement commitment is an underlying principle of the supplier diversity team’s business practice. It influences applicable training for people, selection criteria for suppliers, and the development of standards for conducting business with our suppliers. Supplier diversity is anchored in value-add as reflected in the innovation and economic impact that supplier inclusion and diversity continue to bring. Nedra Dickson, Sesley Brown, Che’ McFerrin, Tatyana Pena and Sara Sudeyko tirelessly work to ensure the anchor is always strong.