By Suzanne Squyres
Procurement veteran Clint Grimes joined Time Warner Inc. in 2004, a pivotal point in the development of the company’s supplier diversity initiative. “At that time, Time Warner was building out its enterprise sourcing organization in an effort to standardize the approach to supplier selection across the organization,” said Grimes, the company’s executive director of procurement services and supplier diversity. “The specifics of the TW role were right up my alley.”
Once Grimes became a part of the media and entertainment firm, he jumped into the mechanics of supplier diversity development. “From the beginning of my tenure with TW, I was tapped to represent the corporate procurement services office on the supplier diversity task force,” he explained. “This cross-divisional team served as an advisory panel for the supplier diversity organization and was an active participant in the initiative itself.”
The task force also provided resources for capacity-building and outreach events and reported supplier diversity metrics from members’ individual areas of the company. These reports were then integrated into a collective overview of supplier diversity performance.
Certification is key
In 2010, Time Warner expanded its diversity program to include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender suppliers and service-disabled veteran businesses, but the enhancement has not been without challenges. “We find that in the media and entertainment space, there are a number of LGBT businesses we already have connections with. The issue we find is that many of these companies are not certified,” Grimes said. “Our program metrics are focused on identifying certified diverse business enterprises in our supply chain and identifying and increasing expenditures with them. The absence of certification makes inclusion of these suppliers difficult.” Time Warner accepts LGBT certification through Washington, D.C.-based National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.
Besides pursuing certification, Grimes advises LGBT suppliers seeking opportunities with Time Warner to study the company’s operations, challenges, history, future outlook and supply market. “Based on this information, determine how best to position your company as a provider of solutions to us,” he added. “The focus of a conversation with us should be on how your business can help Time Warner better compete in the marketplace.”
Incorporating LGBT businesses into Time Warner’s supplier diversity has been particularly satisfying for Grimes, who is openly gay. “As a member of two diverse communities myself, I find it personally rewarding to serve as a conduit to help diverse businesses navigate the complex landscape of an organization like Time Warner,” he said.
Grimes’s background in procurement runs deep and wide. Prior to joining Time Warner, he was the director of sourcing services at Braintree Sourcing, a Boston-area company that specialized in securing not-for-resale goods and services. He previously served as a consultant with A.T. Kearney, a global management consulting firm, where he focused on strategic sourcing and supply chain projects for Fortune 500 clients.
A man of many hats
During his tenure at Time Warner’s headquarters in New York City, Grimes used his dual-pronged role in procurement and supplier diversity as a platform for propelling the value of diversity throughout the company’s supply chains.
“I find that when one portion of my role is ebbing, the other is taking off,” he said. “Primarily, my sourcing team focuses on a number of categories of spend — such as market research, real estate and operations — facilitating cross-divisional teams through a structured supplier selection process, as well as ongoing supplier performance management.” He called his function on the sourcing team as one of “advisor, escalation path and subject matter expert.”
The supplier diversity team drives the company’s diverse business enterprise outreach activities and performance metric analysis, Grimes continued. “My responsibility there is to help drive our internal and external communication strategy, determine external outreach focus and balance the competing needs of the organization with those of diverse suppliers wanting to do business with Time Warner.”
Grimes relishes his role in helping LGBT and other diverse suppliers successfully traverse the sometimes murky waters of corporate opportunity and procurement. “The path forward is not linear, and having a guide to direct and connect companies to a sprawling organization is key,” he said. “While the ability to capitalize on an opportunity lies solely in the hands of the supplier, I seek to provide them with the opportunity to peddle their wares to the right people.”