Supplier Diversity – Connect And Collaborate
Niki Sams, Materials Management, Fluor
Ab Uppal, Supply Chain, Fluor
Fluor designs and builds the world’s toughest projects, often with a presence in diverse markets that benefit from diverse suppliers who have a working knowledge of market nuances.
Following the definition provided by the Government of Canada’s Office of the Procurement Ombudsman, diverse suppliers are defined as businesses owned or led by Canadians from underrepresented groups, including women, Indigenous Peoples, persons with disabilities and visible minorities.
Collaboration with supplier networks is key to providing world-class, high-quality products and services. Fluor’s Contractor and Supplier Diversity Program aims to achieve just that, acting as the vehicle by which the company engages with a vast array of suppliers. The program seeks to expand the opportunities that are offered to suppliers by building on combined strengths to drive mutual success within companies and communities. In 2021, 78% of Fluor's total spend was with local (in-country) suppliers and contractors.
Through engagements with diverse suppliers, Fluor is better positioned to provide clients with quality services at competitive costs. Under the Contractor and Supplier Diversity Program, Fluor is entering new networks and markets while creating a space for contractors and suppliers to learn about what makes them similar; to forge relationships with new customers. In this space, contractors are able to move away from simple transactions and instead draw on established relationships to select the supplier that is a strongest fit with the needs of a project and client.
By providing more sourcing options through engagement with diverse suppliers, supply chain programs become increasingly resilient and agile — something of significant consideration in uncertain economic times. In addition to the obvious economic benefits of supplier diversity, it also helps create a positive impact on the communities where diverse businesses are located through job creation, increased wages, and tax revenue. This in turn encourages the growth of existing diverse companies and promotes the development of new underrepresented companies — further expanding supply chain networks and improving the health of the supply chain ecosystem overall.
In June, Fluor took a proactive step in the engagement of diverse suppliers and held its inaugural Technology & Supplier Connect event in Calgary. The event sought to replace the transactional nature of typical engagements between contractors and suppliers, and welcomed diverse suppliers to the Fluor campus for an afternoon of relationship building and networking. The goal of the event was to unlock opportunities to expand service offerings for clients, while broadening the supplier network and deepening existing supplier relationships.
“This event was about forward-thinking in an ever-changing supply chain world and providing a first step in creating an avenue for relationships to organically grow,” says Ab Uppal, Director Supply Chain & Department Manager, Fluor. “The Connect event was about much more than expanding an existing supplier database; it also promoted proactive engagement of suppliers and subcontractors, encouraged progressive alignment with businesses that share core values similar to Fluor’s, and demonstrated that we are all part of an ecosystem with key roles to play in each other’s success.”
In total, more than 350 representatives from over 150 companies came together for the event. In an effort to help make the event as diverse as possible, an open call for registration was posted to social media and the event team personally reached out to local and Indigenous-owned businesses to ensure they were aware of the opportunity. Of the companies in attendance, more than half have a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) program similar to that at Fluor.
Initial feedback at the event was positive, with many in attendance asking if the event would become annual. The interactions afforded over the course of one afternoon demonstrated an energy in the supplier community for collaboration and the development of long-lasting relationships.
“Fluor's engagement of a diverse supplier base fits well with our company’s purpose — to build a better world,” says Uppal. “The relationships we have built at Connect will help make us more inclusive, stronger, resilient in the Canadian marketplace and enhance our ability to take on the challenges of the future. Through a commitment to work with a diverse supplier base, the networks through which we procure goods and services will continue to grow. The result will hopefully be an ecosystem where all players are enabled to provide innovative, cost competitive and high-quality products for clients.”