Catholic Health Initiatives’ Rosalyn Carpenter Committed to the Supplier Diversity Journey

by LP Green, II

Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI) hired Rosalyn Carpenter in 2011 to develop their supplier diversity program. She was promoted in 2014 to Chief Diversity Officer to advance D&I strategies in workforce diversity, supplier diversity and health equity. She is the former Director of Supplier Diversity for HCA and HealthTrust Purchasing Group. Her previous roles include President & CEO, Urban League of Middle Tennessee and Executive Director, Metro Human Relations Commission of Nashville and Davidson County. In this Q&A, Carpenter shares her insights on supplier diversity.

The role of supplier diversity professionals is a tough job as the conduit between the organization and suppliers who want to do business. What motivates you?

The most exciting and fulfilling aspects of advocating for diverse suppliers is their entrepreneurial spirit. I see and hear their drive for excellence and desire for fairness as they compete for business opportunities. Diverse businesses generated more than $400 billion in annual revenue in 2014 and were responsible for nearly 4 million employees. Women-owned businesses generated more than $2.5 trillion in annual sales and employed more than 18 million. These factors fuel my sense of purpose to do my best in supplier diversity.

CHI has been a corporate member of the National Minority Supplier Diversity Council (NMSDC) since 2011. The NMSDC is my source for vendor certification and an external brain trust of procurement professionals. Its Healthcare Industry Group, which I chair, includes supplier diversity professionals from hospitals, health systems, group purchasing organizations (GPOs), pharma, insurance, retail, distributors and manufacturers.

Additionally, my role as a member of the Healthcare Supplier Diversity Advisory Board enables me to interact with incredible leaders who tirelessly advocate for diverse suppliers and work to increase the diversity spend across all organizations. This has been an inspiration and helps me to maintain a great sense of purpose.

What actions can corporations take to advance supplier diversity strategies?

Establish annual diversity goals.

Ensure supplier diversity is on leadership agendas with quarterly progress reports to the CEO.

Assign supplier diversity accountabilities to all supply chain staff as a core function.

Communicate business opportunities and RFP’s over $500,000 to diverse business communities (e.g., NMSDC and WBENC, chambers of commerce’s, trade associations and diverse media publications).

When necessary provide key suppliers with access to capital.

What can suppliers do to be successful?

Provide quality goods and services, build genuine relationships, be tenacious, nimble, timely, and be patient while waiting on “the deal”.

What action(s) has CHI taken to support supplier diversity that you are most proud of?

I am most proud of the establishment of a diversity fund supporting our use of diverse asset managers, an investment (capital) to one of our diverse vendors and contract implementation requiring all markets to become compliant to targeted diverse sole source contracts in 90 days.

We often hear that viable diverse suppliers are difficult to find and can’t handle the scope of large organizations. Is that true? Which suppliers have you used that we should know about?

I can’t speak for every industry, but I must say that the fact that the Billion Dollar Roundtable has 27 members from 10 industries, including healthcare, who do a billion dollars or more annually with minority- and woman-owned businesses certified by NMSDC and WBENC is evidence that there are viable diverse suppliers providing needed business solutions to corporations across our country. To progress supplier diversity we must always ask, “Are we doing business with minorities or women for this product or service?”

Contributor: Hilton M. Hudson MD, FACS is a practicing heart surgeon and is the Co-founder and CEO of Hilton Publishing dba HPC.

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