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Supplier Diversity

ManpowerGroup includes supplier diversity in niche staffing

The workforce solutions company enlists diverse firms to assist its clients with specific needs. A longstanding relationship with Icon Information Consultants helps both


ManpowerGroup, the Milwaukee-based workforce solutions giant, has had a supplier diversity program in place since 2000, but the effort accelerated in 2008. That year, the company formed a supplier diversity executive steering committee and an advisory board of diversity-owned businesses.

In 2002, ManpowerGroup launched an annual roundtable dedicated to increasing the involvement of diverse suppliers in its business. “At our supplier diversity roundtable, we spend time talking about best practices, successful techniques, how the industry is changing and what suppliers need to do to adjust,” says Kip Wright, senior vice president of ManpowerGroup Solutions and a member of the supplier diversity executive steering committee.

ManpowerGroup generates monthly, quarterly and annual reports that track the company’s spending with diverse suppliers in every division, according to supplier diversity manager Shaleta Dunn.

Company leaders meet each year with the executive steering committee and advisory board to discuss how to increase the participation of diverse suppliers in ManpowerGroup’s supply chain. The company’s standing goal is to increase spending with diverse suppliers by five percent year over year. For 2013, the target was set at 30 percent of total procurement dollars, Dunn says.

Icon provides staffing and services
ManpowerGroup acquired Tapfin, a Houston-based managed service provider (MSP), in 2010. Today one of Tapfin’s top vendors is Houston-based Icon Information Consultants, headed by Pamela O’Rourke. Icon Information Consultants provides contract and contract-to-hire placements in IT and other fields, along with direct-hire placements, validation and management services, and payroll services.

O’Rourke and Wright met in 1998, the same year that Icon Information Consultants was founded. Now the firm provides IT consulting, finance and HR services to clients via Tapfin. “When a Tapfin client says, ‘I need to hire an IT programmer for a six-month assignment,’ we send those requisitions out to our supplier community, which includes Pamela’s company,” says Wright. “Then Pamela responds to those requisitions with candidates that fit the profile, and the client selects them. The Tapfin system helps Pamela make sure the consultant she provides is properly oriented, that the paperwork is done, and that the consultant has a pass for the client’s facility and/or login credentials.”

Wright notes that O’Rourke participates in several of Tapfin’s MSP contracts. “She and her firm are a vital piece of our ability to support our clients, because our clients are looking for consultants with specific skills that her firm can provide,” Wright explains.

Remarkable success
O’Rourke has a degree in management information systems from the University of Houston (TX), and has held jobs in network engineering, project management and application development. “The love of my life has always been infrastructure,” says O’Rourke, who developed telecommunications infrastructure for such major companies as Conoco and Compaq.

After a number of years in the corporate world, O’Rourke decided to go into business for herself. Her startup was more successful than she’d anticipated. “I thought I’d only do about $70,000 of business in my first year,” O’Rourke recalls. “I ended up doing $2.5 million.” Today Icon Information Consultants has sales of $280 million, O’Rourke reports, and it has achieved double-digit growth in nearly every year since it started.

O’Rourke says one of the biggest advantages of being a Tapfin vendor is “to be part of a brand that is recognized globally. Tapfin is a top MSP performer. They can maneuver around obstacles that would defeat a smaller company like mine.”

O’Rourke actually helped develop a supplier diversity program for Tapfin before it was acquired by ManpowerGroup. “She was really helpful when we were setting our original goals and priorities,” Wright says.

Making connections
ManpowerGroup executives connect with potential suppliers at the company’s own supplier diversity roundtable, and at conferences of the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) and their regional affiliates, and other organizations of diverse suppliers. When businesses enroll in ManpowerGroup’s supplier diversity program, the company’s database captures information on their geographic locations and areas of expertise, which helps determine which vendors are most qualified for particular projects.

“For example, can they handle information technology or engineering requisitions, or are they primarily focused in light industrial?” Wright says. “We need to know what kind of requisitions to send out.”

Wright adds that Tapfin’s systems give ManpowerGroup extensive reporting and analytical capabilities. “We have an engine that lets us capture the performance of all our suppliers, so we’re able to tell how effective they are in fulfilling needs within specific skill categories or within geographies or accounts,” he says.

ManpowerGroup accepts certification through NMSDC and WBENC, as well as credentials from various government agencies.

O’Rourke has been certified with WBENC since 2001. She’s a member of the WBENC board and a technology consultant for the organization. “I helped roll out WBENCLink, where every WBE who wants to be certified goes online to apply and where corporations go to look for certified WBE vendors,” she says.

The responsible thing to do
ManpowerGroup corporate executives may pair off with vendors who express an interest in receiving individualized support and mentoring. “We’ll match them up with an executive based on geography, experiences or whatever makes sense,” Wright says.

Wright says ManpowerGroup sees supplier diversity as the responsible thing to do.

“It’s a responsibility to contribute from a social perspective, but also a responsibility to have a workforce and a supplier community that represents society at large,” he says. “That’s really important for us, and it’s something we talk about with the supplier community. We strongly encourage them to do something themselves to give back to the communities they represent.”


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