Ericsson’s revamped supplier diversity program sees success
Prospective diverse suppliers get one-on-one attention at Ericsson, where they find their fit, work with mentors, and have a chance to grow
Ericsson is a multinational Swedish company with U.S. headquarters in Plano, TX. It provides equipment, software and services to mobile and fixed network operators around the world.
Ericsson’s supplier diversity program was started in 2008 but was revamped in 2013, says Anisha Jackson, supplier diversity manager.
“At Ericsson we’re excited about supplier diversity, particularly the work we’re doing with women, minority, and disabled veteran-owned businesses.” And, she says, the company’s efforts are already paying off.
“We are a prime supplier for AT&T, and in 2013 and 2014, AT&T gave us the Supplier Diversity Crystal award for prime suppliers who attained or exceeded 21.5 percent diversity utilization,” Jackson says. “We will have a world-class program this year, with additional mentoring opportunities and a second matchmaking event.”
Extending the reach
Ericsson is a corporate member of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, the MidAmerica Minority Supplier Development Council, the Dallas/Fort Worth Minority Supplier Development Council, and the National Minority Supplier Development Council. “Anytime I’m aware of a big project within Ericsson, I reach out to each of those councils to find suppliers that fall within the realm of the project we’re working on,” Jackson says.
“We get calls and e-mails daily from diverse suppliers who want to know how to do business with us. I will set up a thirty-minute meeting with each of those suppliers to go over our processes, review their capability statement, and put them in touch with the person managing those goods or services.”
Jackson and the strategic sourcing group also set up one-on-one meetings with suppliers at the conventions and expos they attend.
All suppliers who are interested in working with Ericsson must register at the supplier portal at ericsson.com/us/thecompany/strategic-sourcing/. They can supply a profile, upload certifications, and list their capabilities.
“Our strategic sourcing group uses that portal to search for suppliers of a specific service or commodity,” Jackson says. “Our customers within Ericsson will reach out to us for additional suppliers for projects they’re working on. They have access to the portal as well.”
Ericsson is extending its diversity efforts to include the First Nations aboriginal community in Canada, Jackson adds.
Opening the door to great possibilities
Jackson provides informal mentoring for many diversity suppliers, and the company launched a formal mentoring program this year.
“Ericsson managers establish close relationships with a core group of current diverse suppliers. Together, they come up with goals for the supplier to improve their core competencies,” Jackson explains. “Every quarter they are graded on their progress, which is noted on a scorecard and discussed. The hope is that at the end of the year, the supplier has met the goals.”
Also this year, Ericsson partnered with Texas Women Ventures, a group that lends capital to women-owned businesses to help them meet financial requirements for certain projects. “We thought this partnership would work well with our mentorship program,” Jackson notes. “It will help our WBEs bid on business that their financial situations might have kept them from pursuing.”
Ericsson requires its large suppliers to aim for 10 percent of diverse supplier spend with MBEs, 10 percent with WBEs and 2 percent with disabled veteran businesses for any Ericsson project. For the first time this year, the online supplier registry tool has the capability to track this tier 2 data, Jackson adds.
Pyramid proves its value
Last year Pyramid Consulting, Inc (Alpharetta, GA), a minority-owned software and IT consultancy, attended an Ericsson matchmaker event. Pyramid started out as a tier 2 supplier, but after successfully completing that contract, it is now one of Ericsson’s tier 1 suppliers. “It’s a great example of how a supplier can be successful working with a big corporation. They will be at our matchmaking event this year to tell their story,” Jackson says.
“I like to think of my role in the supplier diversity program as a facilitator, a bridge between the supplier and Ericsson,” she adds. “With the recent revamping of the program, our new website, and our calendar of events, we’re giving suppliers an opportunity to speak directly to our sourcing contract group, where decisions are made. We have opened doors and closed gaps so suppliers can feel confident approaching Ericsson.”
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