The mission of Financial Services Roundtable for Supplier Diversity Inc. is to strengthen the supplier diversity initiatives of its respective companies, thereby increasing stakeholder and shareholder value.
“We do this through a variety of delivery methods, including exchanging information on best practices, providing proactive opportunities for diverse suppliers in both traditional and nontraditional areas of the financial services industry, establishing a link between the financial services industry and diverse business communities and fostering the growth of diverse businesses through training and business development opportunities,” said Diana Domenech, FSRSD chair and American International Group Inc. senior director, supplier diversity, environmental sustainability and strategy.
At present, supplier diversity challenges in the financial services industry are not unlike those in other industries. Pressures on expenses, cybersecurity threats, technological advances and other business trends all present ongoing and increasing challenges to supply chain management.
Supplier risk management in general is becoming increasingly important in assessing a supplier’s capabilities and readiness to do business with a large corporation. In this environment, it is sometimes a struggle to find diverse suppliers of the size, scale and sophistication required.
The supplier risk management overall is fast becoming an integral part of corporate supply chain practices, including the financial services industry. Financial institutions may assess suppliers and potential suppliers across a number of risk categories, including information security. Increases in the number of cyber attacks mean that suppliers need to comply with a growing world of regulations, as well as corporate risk management processes.
With these factors in mind, FSRSD’s recent annual MBE Symposium outlined best practices for managing supplier cybersecurity risks. The symposium featured subject matter experts Stephen Grossman, partner at Montgomery McCracken, Walker & Rhoads LLP and chair of its data privacy and cybersecurity practice, and Kathy Kirk, vice president of global information security for Prudential Financial Inc. Both panelists stressed that suppliers need to have a comprehensive cybersecurity plan, as well as sufficient physical and logical controls in place, to protect client applications or systems to which the supplier has access.
Earlier this year, FSRSD also presented a workshop at the 2015 National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce International Business & Leadership Conference. The session was designed to raise awareness about existing supplier diversity networks within financial services and provide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender business enterprises with tips and information on doing business with financial services companies. Panelists from several FSRSD member companies discussed membership benefits, networking and development opportunities, regulations and nuances for doing business in the financial services sector, along with highlights from FSRSD’s most recent benchmarking study.
“Leveraging the formidable experience and expertise of FSRSD’s collective member corporations is a crucial component of the supplier diversity professional’s toolkit,” Domenech said. “Introductions to capable and experienced diverse suppliers is a principal benefit of FSRSD membership.”
Member companies also engage regularly in a proactive and lively exchange of ideas and best practices that help inform individual strategies for continuing to drive supplier diversity forward.
The Roundtable’s annual benchmarking survey is arguably its most notable accomplishment and product. First introduced in 2006, the survey addresses a comprehensive range of issues and provides an invaluable assessment of a member corporation’s supplier diversity initiative.
An additional signature offering is FSRSD’s annual MBE Symposium and Reception. This flagship event has evolved from a relatively casual gathering of members and potential minority suppliers in 2005 to its most recent incarnation that includes an insightful presentation on a critical industry topic, followed by strategic networking among members and a wide range of diverse suppliers. Invitations to the MBE Symposium are highly sought after by the diverse supplier community.
FRSRD is committed to fostering the growth of diverse businesses through training and business development opportunities. To support this objective, the organization has awarded scholarships to the Tuck Minority Business Executive Education program at Dartmouth College. This year’s scholarship was awarded to Thomas Sanchez, founder and chief executive officer of Social Driver, a digital agency that helps companies use social-fueled strategies to unleash results in marketing and advocacy. Social Driver has been recognized by Agency 100 as the seventh fastest growing agency in the United States and was the top-ranked minority-owned business on the list.
“With each project we become more critical to our clients’ operations, and our clients ask us to take on more strategic goals,” Sanchez said. “To be the best partner for our clients, we must continuously learn and invest in our team, recruit the best new employees and be prepared financially. The FSRSD scholarship to the Tuck [Minority Business] Executive Education program allowed me to attend a weeklong program where I learned the secrets to a high-growth business: customer-centric business strategies, service-focused marketing and data-driven managerial accounting. The program was amazing, and I’ll be able to directly apply lessons learned to some of our current challenges.”
In addition to its annual MBE Symposium and scholarship award, FSRSD launched a webinar series in 2014. The webinars explore topics of concern to financial services industry supply-chain processes and can help better prepare diverse suppliers to do business in the industry. The inaugural 2014 webinar discussed contract negotiating strategies, and this year’s installment examined the role of sustainability in corporate strategic sourcing practices. FSRSD plans to expand its webinar offerings in the future, as well as introduce other supplier education and development opportunities.
By Brenda Matamoros