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Diversifying Suppliers, Vendors and Business Partners as Part of DEI Strategy

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  • At some point, you need to stop making excuses. You get tired of the excuses for lack of progress. We realized that we needed to be more persistent if we wanted to reach our desired outcome.

    Fred Seigel, president and chief executive officer at Beacon Capital Partners

    Beacon Capital Partners Case Study

    This case study lifts up actions from Expanding Equity’s (EE) Influence pillar, which focuses on using a company’s products, services or processes to advance diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the industries and communities in which it operates. It features EE network member Beacon Capital Partners.

    At Beacon Capital Partners, having a workplace that prioritizes DEI means being intentional with choosing external partners who share those same values.

    A private real estate investment firm based in Boston that has now expanded to 14 markets, Beacon Capital began its focus on DEI in 2014 and aimed to build a holistic plan that brought attention to the company’s racial equity work both internally and externally. The firm worked to reshape its selection process for business partners – also known as suppliers, vendors and service providers – at its properties by intentionally evaluating and partnering with diverse business partners.

    In developing this initiative, Beacon Capital took the following actions:

    • Engaged with and listened to employees, focusing on a people-first approach in understanding what they viewed as necessary in creating an equitable and inclusive workplace
    • Reached out to larger firms in the real estate industry to hear about their DEI work and how they were approaching business partner diversity
    • Organized an employee-led task force to pilot the initiative to expand the pool of vendors and suppliers, test it in select properties and determine if there was a measurable impact
    • Gathered feedback from the pilot, appointed an official lead for the initiative and expanded it across the entire portfolio

    To sustain the initiative, Beacon Capital analyzes its current diverse business partner base and determines ways the initiative can further strengthen the communities where it owns properties. This pilot has resulted in an increase in Beacon Capital’s total property spend on diverse vendors and suppliers from about 4% of controllable operating expense spending with diverse business partners in the pilot properties in 2017 to around 27% of controllable operating expense spending in 2022. Beacon Capital has integrated this tracking into its accounting system to accurately measure and track its spending on diverse business partners.

    4 Steps: Diversifying Business Partners as Part of DEI Strategy

    • 4 Steps: Diversifying Business Partners as Part of DEI Strategy Follow along to see how Beacon Capital Partners advanced supplier diversity as a part of broader diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.

    • Step 1: Engage Listen to employees and leaders about the impact and influence you want to have through DEI strategy. Beacon Capital asked themselves "do the teams at our properties reflect the communities in which they are based?" The answer was "no," leading to a pivotal opportunity for the organization's DEI work to expand through a business partner diversity initiative.

    • Step 2: Learn Reach out to larger firms in your industry that have a track record of recruiting diverse suppliers and partners. Listen to their experiences and learn how they approached business partner diversity efforts.

    • Step 3: Pilot Organize an employee-led task force to pilot an approach to the effort or initiative and try it out in a portion of your business. Expand your pool of diverse partners and determine if the initiative has measurable impacts or what you can learn from it.

    • Step 4: Expand Gather feedback from the employee-led pilot. Appoint an official leader for the initiative and expand it across your entire portfolio. By appointing leaders, your initiative can inspire others to take leadership roles that impact diversity, equity and inclusion.

    Beacon Capital shared the following key learnings that it would recommend to other companies seeking to implement a similar initiative:

    • DEI is a journey – it’s okay to not have all the answers at the start
    • Track data early on and identify key points of potential impact
    • Support your employees that are passionate about this work through financial support and by creating time and space to enact their ideas
    View the full case study here