Entrepreneur business, PROXIMO formalizes supplier diversity initiative
By Karla Carnes
Keeping with its mission to “Expand economic opportunities for the LGBT business community,” the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) recently hosted its 2019 International Business & Leadership Conference in Tampa, FL. The landmark annual event drew over 1,400 attendees consisting of both LGBTQ business owners and allies and provided all in attendance opportunities to engage in over 50 workshops, business development tracks and networking engagements.
The Champagne Brunch and Awards Ceremony recognized exemplary business initiatives working to promote LGBTQ inclusion in the workplace and broader community. The inaugural NGLCC/Wells Fargo Empowerful Award, which recognizes a certified LGBTBE for their comprehensive supplier diversity programming, was presented to Proximo.
“I was humbled to learn we were nominated for the award by fellow business owners and customers,” said David Ricciardi, President and CEO of Proximo. “This award recognizes diverse businesses who stand out in supplier diversity, and Proximo always strives to be one of those leaders.”
Ricciardi, who founded the information solutions company Proximo in 1997, has a varied background in the financial, automotive, and consulting sectors, both in the US and internationally. Now, twenty-two years since its inception, Ricciardi has grown Proximo into a provider that serves its Fortune 500 customers in a variety of ways – from data strategy to integration to predictive analytics.
“Essentially, we are helping our customers gain additional value from under-utilized data assets,” said Ricciardi. “We take data that oftentimes is difficult to understand, and turn it into intelligent, useful information.”
As time passed and Proximo continued to experience growth, Ricciardi recognized the need to formalize Proximo’s then-informal supplier diversity efforts – a process which began with identifying existing diverse suppliers in its supply chain and those that could be certified.
“While we had been engaging diverse suppliers for many years, we only launched a formal supplier diversity program three years ago,” said Ricciardi. “It was a matter of formalizing the tracking of diverse suppliers and spend, helping some suppliers become certified, and seeking out new diverse suppliers.”
These diverse suppliers, ranging from qualitative researchers to graphic designers, provide value to Proximo through both the quality of their offerings and their different perspectives on work.
“Supplier diversity is good because it brings diversity of thought,” said Ricciardi. “At Proximo, we look for suppliers with whom we can collaborate well and for services we don’t ourselves provide. In our line of business, where we deal so heavily with numbers and data, a different lens is invaluable. We seek out suppliers who can help us take our analytics and present it as a story.”
As Ricciardi looks toward the future and what lies in store for Proximo’s ongoing efforts, he encourages diverse suppliers interested in pursuing contracts to become familiar with the company for which they are interested in working.
“Show me something I’m not already doing,” Ricciardi said. “Last year, 40% of Proximo’s annual spend was allocated to sourcing from diverse suppliers, which was up from the year before that. It’s about building a relationship, and it needs to be a good fit for both parties. At Proximo, we focus a lot on this area because diversity isn’t only beneficial for us – in the end, it’s beneficial for everybody.”