Strength in Diversity-Large Corporations Find Working With Minority-Owned Firms Is Good Business

Companies that understand supplier diversity see it not as an expense to be trimmed in a slow economy, but as an investment in the future, a way to find new clients and an integral part of their business strategy.

For these corporations, a diverse supply chain is as essential as marketing or product development.

For minority-owned businesses, meanwhile, corporate diversity programs can be a critical lifeline, especially in a down economy.

Crain’s Chicago Business, a sister publication of Workforce Management, asked minority-business advocates, business owners, academics and consultants to identify the major corporations with the best reputations for building and maintaining supplier diversity in the Chicago area. The results are hardly scientific, but offer a ground-level assessment of seven major Chicago companies viewed by many as going the extra mile to maintain diversity, even in hard times.


Since 2006, the Purchase, New York-based food and beverage conglomerate has been run by a woman of color, CEO Indra Nooyi. Many of the company’s core brands, including those with headquarters in Chicago such as Tropicana, Quaker Oats and Gatorade, count large numbers of minorities among their customers.

“Diversity is a selling point that strengthens the bottom line,” says Ernest Freeman, PepsiCo’s senior manager for supplier diversity. Read the full story on


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