Auburn Hills-based automaker FCA US today announced a new diversity initiative to connect its purchasing organization with minority, women, and veteran owned business associations by providing customized training, learning, development, and networking opportunities.
The program began Monday during the Inaugural Black Supplier Engagement Forum at FCA US’s headquarters in Auburn Hills. The event drew more than 50 certified African American business owners from the Michigan Black Chamber of Commerce for a half-day program of sessions led by representatives from Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, and Plunkett and Cooney. Topics included succession planning and access to capital.
Monday’s “forum is just the beginning of a new initiative in the supplier diversity group where we want to create more customized opportunities to interact with minority-owned businesses to promote growth and collaboration,” says Scott Thiele, chief purchasing officer for FCA Global. “The more we can get one-on-one with diverse companies, who can bring new ideas to the table, the better our businesses will be in the long term.”
In 2016, FCA US spent nearly $3 billion with approximately 230 minority, women, and veteran owned suppliers, representing over 8 percent of the company’s total annual purchasing. Since 1983, the company has purchased nearly $58 billion from diverse suppliers, and FCA’s diversity goals require that up to 11.5 percent of a Tier 1 supplier’s buy be sourced to certified minority and women suppliers.
“Strategic programs that provide access to more than 106,000 African-American businesses in Michigan, with development opportunities tied to a major automotive industry player, are an excellent way to help build up the state and region’s economy,” says Dr. Ken L. Harris, president and CEO of the Michigan Black Chamber of Commerce Inc. in downtown Detroit. “This is just the beginning of what the black business community envisions as a long-term partnership with FCA US, where we can match our member businesses, which demonstrate capacity, scope, and scale with their purchasing needs, to create a mutually beneficial relationship that encourages value incentives in the entrepreneurial landscape.”
FCA US will pursue similar supplier diversity programs targeting the Great Lakes Women’s Business Council, the National Veteran Business Development Council, the Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and other minority business groups.