Ok, raise your hand if you want a seat at the Billion Dollar Roundtable

Ok, raise your hand if you want a seat at the Billion Dollar Roundtable

That’s right, with a billion dollars or more, a seat can be yours. You get to sit and discuss how to most effectively spend your billion or so dollars, as well as commit to spending more.

Not even King Arthur and his chivalric knights had it that good.

Ok, so maybe it’s not as romantic as an Arthurian legend, but the Billion Dollar Roundtable (BDR) is providing some feel-good synergy all the way around.

This article will discuss the Billion Dollar Roundtable, and the importance of developing a robust supplier diversity program.


What Is The Billion Dollar Roundtable?


The group was founded in 2001 to bring together major U.S.-based corporations that make meaningful and measurable contributions to the economic growth of diverse companies.  Member companies work together to advocate for best practices and sensible solutions for supplier diversity.

To become a member, a firm has to attain (and sustain) an annual direct spend with minority and women owned firms of “only” $1 billion.

The membership criteria is nothing to shake a ‘sword’ at.

Here’s what’s required:

  • Source at least $1.0 billion from tier 1 minority and women business enterprises.
  • Have an established supplier diversity program.
  • The dollars sourced must be auditable and verifiable.
  • The corporation must be certified members of Women’s Business Enterprise National Council and National Minority Supplier Development Council.

And to remain a member, these qualifications must be sustained annually, as well as additional responsibilities such as willing to mentor others in supplier diversity and set goals to increase sourcing each year.


Current Members


Currently, there are 20 members of the BDR including companies such as: Johnson & Johnson, Toyota, Dell, IBM, Walmart, Boeing and P&G. New ones are inducted biannually.

Dell spent $3.4 billion with diverse suppliers in FY12 — a 16 percent increase from the previous year. And they hold their suppliers to high standards of excellence as defined by their Supplier Accountability and Compliance guidelines. IBM spends over $3 billion a year with diverse suppliers.

As the world’s largest retailer, Walmart works with more than 3,000 diverse suppliers and spent approximately $13.5 billion with women and minority-owned businesses in FYE 2015 including $10.4 billion in direct-spending and $3.1 billion in second-tier spending.

And specifically regarding women, Walmart has pledged to use its global size and scale to empower women across their  supply chain through their Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative.

Johnson & Johnson has been a member of the BDR since July of 2011, reaching the one billion dollar mark in 2010. Their Supplier Diversity program was established in 1998 and their push to a billion dollars began with a multi-year strategy in 2007.  And they are exceeding their Healthy Future 2015 goal targets, as they reached $1.36 billion in 2013, up from $1.23 billion in 2012.  They currently use over 1,600 certified minority- and women-owned business suppliers.

This requires a commitment from top leadership, as Hans Melotte, Chief Procurement Officer for J&J writes in a blog: “At Johnson & Johnson, we believe that our suppliers are critical to fulfilling our mission to help people live longer, happier and healthier lives. We view our supplier network as an extension of our enterprise and instrumental in living the responsibilities embedded in Our Credo.”


The Importance of a Supplier Diversity Program

By no means is it a simple feat to achieve a $1 billion annual Tier 1 spend with diverse suppliers.  It doesn’t happen by simply wanting it to happen. It requires a commitment from the top, innovative thinking, planning and ensuring that supplier diversity becomes a business imperative, not just a program.

The importance of supplier diversity cannot be highlighted enough — “Diverse and small businesses are vital partners…they represent our customers, patients and consumers that use our products and services” as stated by Johnson & Johnson on their website.

The Billion Dollar Roundtable is a forum by which this business imperative is collaborated on, invested in and manifested and they drive this focus home with their message of “Lead, influence, & shape supplier diversity excellence globally”.