Recent global events, including the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the increased mainstream visibility of social violence and inequities for the people of the global majority, have highlighted the importance of diversity and inclusion across all industries. Not least, in the pharma, nutraceutical and clinical research space, as many look to protect and maintain their physical and mental wellness. Where some may have perceived diversity and inclusion efforts in the industry as a tick-box practice, there is now a clear and loud demand from consumers and those within the industry to ensure representation is comprehensive, genuine, and dedicated in reflecting the diversity of real-world populations.
Currently, we broadly find our clinical trials are not diverse enough for the communities we should be looking to serve, and our products are not suitably targeted for issues specifically faced by those of the global majority. Non-white groups are seen, statistically, to have worse health and available healthcare treatments than white communities, and the offering available to them in a tangible, focused way is still severely lacking across the pharma- and nutraceutical industries. As industry participants, how can we look to make amends for these failings, ensuring the growth of our sector in a diverse and sustainable way for our customers?
It seems one of the most common barriers to greater diversity in the nutraceuticals supply chain is often feeling under-resourced or underfunded to research and implement action in an informed and meaningful way. For small business owners, this can be an even bigger concern. However, what may be forgotten in this argument is the greater return and inevitable growth that comes when nutraceutical companies invest in broadening their offering and welcoming a new customer base.
Ensuring genuinely comprehensive representation is at the foundation of your business connects you with your customer with integrity - and also supports your future profits. As Michigan State University explores, organisations that focus on diversity in supplier selection can see a correlation to greater economic growth. The Hackett Group’s Supplier Diversity Study noted that companies dedicating at least 20% of their spend to suppliers striving for diversity and inclusion in their working practices and products could see a growth of as much as 15% in their annual sales. The ROI of a supplier diversity program has been seen as high as 133%.
Companies see the best return when they research with genuine curiosity and respect towards their client base. Understanding the specific needs of the customers themselves, instead of making presumptions on how you can best fill this niche, ensures a solid and consistent increase in sales. This also helps develop a positive reputation for your company, and a sustainable place in the future of nutraceuticals.
Alongside detailed research and understanding of your customer base, looking internally at your HR procedures and in-house culture of diversity is essential to addressing greater disparities in the inclusivity of nutraceuticals. Working from the basics up is the best way to ensure that active efforts towards addressing disparities in representation are meaningful, not just procedural. Addressing your internal recruitment processes, encouraging open conversations, and establishing diverse leadership teams help create a trickle-down effect through all company processes - from production and delivery to networking and outreach.
Making internal changes can be complicated and costly. However, pioneers in the industry are looking to make this transition easier. Abbott and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, for one, have announced a $37.5million initiative across the United States to enable small businesses in diversifying their work. Tailored growth capital, loans, and complex support are creating the space to fix company discrepancies and construct an environment of integrity for a more diverse industry.
Recognising the disparity between the offer of small diagnostics, nutrition, nutraceutical, and medical and health technology companies and the diversity of the communities they serve, Abbot and LISC’s alliance are set on creating an equitable state for industrial growth.
Whilst industry can seem impenetrable when it comes to instigating cultural changes, as we’ve started to explore, it becomes possible when broken down into composite parts. In the same way that interrogating individual human resources practices can lead to tangible change, exploring our individual supplier and customer relationships can help us map out a route for tangible change.
Rod Robinson, Senior Vice President at Insight Sourcing Group leading the Supplier Diversity & Responsible Sourcing Consulting Practice, shares his ultimate steps to improve the diversity efforts of your suppliers, in discussion with Forbes. Firstly, he rcommends:
Developing a baseline understanding of where external procurement dollars are spent and with whom is essential to building a more diverse and inclusive supply chain”.
Recognising how your annual spend is broken down is essential to understanding how you are investing and who you are investing in.
Once you have an understanding of the major categories of spend, you can begin the process of broadening your pool of potential suppliers within each category.”
When you see which suppliers you are relying upon, you can begin to assess their approaches to diversity and look to onboard new suppliers with a specific focus in addressing disparity in diversity and inclusive representation.
Lastly, he recommends using dedicated organisations in supplier diversity, such as the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) and Women's Business National Enterprise Council (WBENC), which can be a great starting point in challenging diversity disparity in your nutraceutical suppliers. Committing to a regular assessment of your supply chain, and continued procurement of diverse suppliers can help sow significant change across the industry.
It seems our world has reached an unavoidable tipping point, where we can choose to welcome change as a positive force, or remain committed to old working systems that, in fact, were never truly serving our efforts, or our communities. Recognising the need for change across our working spaces and within the nutraceuticals industry, in particular, can be daunting - in many ways, our industries are embedded in practices of the past.
However, curiosity and innovation are inherent in pharma-, nutraceutical, and health-based creative companies. Making the choice to welcome change with optimism, and recognise that adapting our HR practices, supply chains, and industrial focus, can lead to a more assured, successful, and inspiring space for all.
Would you like to discuss any of the points covered in this article in some more detail, or add any comments? Please drop me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org, or connect with me on LinkedIn, to chat!
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