This month at Delta’s “Runway to Opportunity” event, almost 200 diverse suppliers across the country gathered for a unique opportunity to learn best practices for business growth, sustainability and development to facilitate partnerships with major corporations like Delta.
Delta’s strategy to support and partner with small and diverse businesses is key to the airline’s success, as Delta celebrates its 20th anniversary of its supplier diversity program this year.
To illustrate Delta’s commitment, the airline has pinpointed the goal of joining the Billion Dollar Roundtable (BDR), a group of corporations that have achieved annual tier one spending of $1B with certified diverse suppliers, such as minority, women, veteran, and LGBTQ-owned businesses or those owned by individuals with disabilities.
“That goal isn’t there as a ‘check the box’ exercise, but rather as just the beginning,” Delta’s Chief Financial Officer Paul Jacobson told attendees. “That goal could be reached by having just a few large diverse suppliers, but supplier diversity is more than that. We also have to have a strong pipeline of smaller, growing companies to support and fuel our vision.”
Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Chairman and CEO of SodexoMAGIC, a longtime partner in Delta’s supply chain, joined the discussion to talk patience, long-term strategy and how small businesses can set up for success. “Delta believes in supplier diversity and is directly investing in minority and women-owned companies. It starts at the top. Because it’s important to the CEO, it trickles down to everyone else,” Johnson said. “Forums like ‘Runway to Opportunity’ are important to small business owners because it allows them the chance to get practical knowledge on how to work in and on their business, and drive value.”
“As an executive leader of the supply chain organization, I feel a calling to be a steward of all that is entrusted to us, including our resources and our experiences. That is why we are here today,” Jacobson said. “We are here to pass along to you the knowledge and relationships with key Delta buyers and business leaders to try to make it easier for you to do business with Delta, and hopefully other large companies as well.”
In addition to its annual Star Awards, which celebrate Delta’s top diverse suppliers, Delta also launched its Supplier Diversity Academy last year – a 12-18 month program that helps develop high potential diverse suppliers through mentorship and capacity-building initiatives.
Seeking diversity and promoting inclusion among employees, customers and communities as well as business partners is fundamental to Delta’s core values. For more information on how to partner with Delta, visit delta.com/supplierdiversity or reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.