Hospitality Industry Buyers and Suppliers Assess Diversity Programs
The inaugural Buyer Interactive Trade Alliance Conference (BITAC) recently held its first hospitality-specific event targeting supplier diversity. The landmark event brought suppliers and buyers together in an open forum to partner on ways to improve and refine programs that focus on inclusiveness. BITAC Diversity is the first forum designed specifically for diversity buyers and engaged suppliers in the hospitality industry.
"While current diversity programs in the hospitality industry have produced successful results, there still are bridges to be gapped between purchasers, suppliers and diversity program heads," said Rich Viola, president and CEO of HotelInteractive.com, which organizes the highly successful BITAC events. "BITAC Diversity was created as a conduit from which diversity buyers and certified suppliers could unite to share successes and frustrations regarding diversity supplier programs in the hospitality industry. Together, these groups took an honest look at existing programs and partnered on creating solutions to heighten the effectiveness of lodging industry diversity initiatives."
Attendees were polled in real time with questions relating specifically to the needs and concerns of diversity certified suppliers and engaged purchasers. Participants included major corporate buyers representing leading hospitality and gaming companies, such as Hilton Hotels Corporation, MGM Mirage and The Walt Disney Company. Topics ranged from supplier expectations to perceptual changes since the Obama election.
Participants cited the hurdles to clear when working with diverse suppliers, such as the perceived lack of scale to meet demand (39%) and understanding of the corporate procurement process (44%). While it was nearly unanimous at 94% that diversity programs are seen as beneficial, 71% feel these programs are essential not because they level the playing field, but because these initiatives create more competition. However, 72% believe there is need for improvement of current diversity programs because too many suppliers feel there needs to be better integration of certified Women and Minority Business Enterprises (WMBEs). Participants also believe there is a greater need for purchaser accessibility (54%) and support from the buyer's diversity program (33%).
"We wouldn't be using diverse suppliers if they didn't bring value to our organization," said Matt Thursam, diversity supplier manager for Disney Worldwide Services, Inc., sourcing & procurement. "Working together is the best way for us all to achieve our goals, and this forum allows both groups to engage in meaningful dialogue."