Evolving Supplier Diversity for Innovation and Positive Impact
At Astellas, we are committed to supplier diversity and working with various suppliers. Diverse suppliers are those that are majority owned and operated by individuals or groups that have been historically underrepresented, such as women-owned businesses, companies run by minority groups such as veterans, LGBTQ+ individuals, or people with disabilities.
Shereen Lannoye, business leader of Astellas’ Supplier Diversity program in the global procurement division, states that a top-rated benefit of a supplier diversity strategy is community empowerment and positive social impact. Shereen explains in this article Astellas’ journey to promote supplier diversity, which provides inclusive, fair and equitable opportunities for diverse suppliers to showcase their capabilities.
Supplier Diversity in Astellas US: The Journey So Far
Diversity and inclusion are critical to innovation and result in new ideas, services and solutions. The concept of diversity and inclusion also has application in our procurement approach as a pathway to bringing innovation and new ideas to Astellas.
It is important to note that supplier diversity didn’t pop up overnight. In the US, supplier diversity has been evolving over the last 40 years. Astellas US’s small business program was initially established to align with the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Small Business Program. That program obligates companies doing business with the VA to meet predefined spending targets for small business entities.
While the US Small Business Program served as an initial step for Astellas to track and report on predefined spending targets, it wasn’t until a few years ago where the program blossomed into a more holistic supplier diversity program. With the launch of Corporate Strategic Plan 2021 (CSP2021) that included an increased focus on sustainability, material issues that pertain to both society and our business were redefined (Click here for the detail.). Shereen and team leveraged CSP2021 as an opportunity to evolve the US Small Business Program to include more diverse and minority-owned businesses to attain a responsible and sustainable approach to supplier engagement across multiple purchasing categories at Astellas.
Supplier Diversity Benefits
Simply defined, a supplier diversity program is a proactive business program to include more traditionally excluded groups and create opportunities for them to gain a more equal market share. The appointment of suppliers is based on suitability to meet business requirements through a fair, unbiased, and transparent process.
Shereen states, “Diverse companies often bring unique perspectives and innovative approaches to solving business challenges. This is good for Astellas as it empowers engagement with local communities and further enables Astellas to deliver on its CSP2021 goals.”
Advancing Astellas’ Supplier Diversity Mission
With CSP2021 front and center, Shereen and team well recognized that different countries may be at different stages of their supplier diversity journey. Therefore, they worked to develop a proposal in what became an approved multi-year plan to expand Astellas’ Supplier Diversity Program utilizing a comprehensive framework designed to Educate, Engage and Evaluate.
The team first focused on the US due to the maturity of the Supplier Diversity infrastructure to expand the small business program to include certified US minority and women-owned businesses. The below diagram illustrates key steps in the team’s approach:
Thus far the team has achieved multiple “wins” including, increased the number of categories that have approved diverse suppliers to engage, incorporated supplier diversity language into policies and processes, and elevated organization understanding of the program. Shereen commented, “I am seeing positive benefits among our employees who have said they are proud of how Astellas has prioritized corporate social responsibility and how the Supplier Diversity Program has been actioned and reported against. Certainly, employees are seeing the initial successes in the US, and can see this program turning into a reality across the globe.” Shereen expects that in the coming year(s), the program will be expanded throughout Astellas’ major markets, including Japan, Europe, and Canada.
Reflection and Promise for the Future
Astellas’ procurement process is designed to be inclusive, fair and equitable. The procurement team invites a wide range of companies, including diverse suppliers, to present their agility, innovative ideas and approaches to address Astellas’ business needs.
Shereen states, “This is an integral part of driving innovation and delivering VALUE for patients. I am proud of the achievements Astellas has made in its mission to strengthen and expand the supplier diversity program thus far and look forward to forging ahead working closely with Astellas colleagues globally to expand the program even further.”
Credits: Astellas would like to acknowledge team members who contributed to the Supplier Diversity Program - Alison Howman, Paul Radoy, Micheal Cassidy, Lynnette Wright, Laura De Dompablo, Julia Ekelman, and Jen Trevor
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