Camden-based American Water hosted its first supplier diversity summit on May 8, providing a forum for diverse companies to connect with stakeholders across the business to discuss procurement opportunities and share capabilities.
Larry Wooten, American Water’s senior manager for supplier diversity, said that the company strives for quality service and ethical business practices in bringing clean, safe, reliable and affordable water to millions of customers in the United States.
“From a supply chain perspective, we work closely with veterans, people with disabilities, women, and minorities,” Wooten said. “We believe it is a business imperative. Our customers are business owners. We believe small businesses are the backbone in this economy. We think we know everything but the innovation is being done outside our four walls.”
You need to compete to win American Water’s business. This is not a social program or philanthropy. This is about value adding.
American Water helps diverse businesses grow and succeed in a meaningful way, Wooten said.
“I joined American Water a little over two years ago,” Wooten said. “My strategy is building supplier diversity. Folks have to embrace it. Supply chain goals center on cost, quality, and delivery. Diverse suppliers are no different. We have to communicate that we are including diversity of thought.”
“You need to compete to win American Water’s business,” Wooten said. “This is not a social program or philanthropy. This is about value adding.”
American Water held the conference to build inroads with many people.
“There is always a perception that small businesses cannot take on more work,” Wooten said. “We change that perception. … Supply chain is at the end of how we buy stuff so we want our employees to be aware of our efforts.”
Organizations that took part in the conference included the Eastern Minority Supplier Development Council, the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey, the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, the Supplier Diversity Development Council, the National Veteran Business Development, B2GNow, and the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.