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Xerox Supplier Diversity Program Celebrates 20 Years of Success


ROCHESTER, N.Y., Dec. 12, 2005 -- In 1985, Xerox Corporation had “one guy in an office” just quietly tracking how much money the company spent with minority-, women- and veteran-owned businesses.

But today, Xerox’s supplier diversity efforts represent a sophisticated, world-class program. A department now manages millions in spending and works with hundreds of suppliers. It has earned top government designations and other awards nationwide. And it increasingly is making diverse suppliers part of the solutions that Xerox offers to its customers too.

As Xerox marks its 20th year of formally managing supplier diversity, the evolution is something to be proud of, yet “we’re aiming for new levels of success every year,” says Dan Robinson, who directs the company’s supplier diversity strategies. “The goal today is to leverage the sophistication of our supplier diversity program as a competitive advantage and as a way to attract new business opportunities for Xerox. That’s a long way from when the program began with one man - me - charting numbers in an office.”

Through October, Xerox has spent nearly $250 million this year alone with minority- and women-owned business enterprises - about 10 percentage points more than planned. This spending represents 30 percent of Xerox’s total qualified U.S. purchases (excluding certain items such as taxes). In total, since 1985, Xerox has purchased more than $5 billion in goods and services from minority-, women- and veteran-owned businesses in the United States.

Xerox’s program not only reports how much it spends with “MWBEs” but also requires Xerox suppliers and their suppliers to do so too, ensuring a chain of business that is committed to diversity spending.

And, that chain continues into how Xerox offers document technology and services to its own customers. For example, earlier this year, as a key component of a six-year managed services agreement with Xerox, KeyCorp engaged Kansas-based Evolv Solutions LLC - a minority-owned document management and output solutions provider - as a primary supplier.

“Customers who contract with Xerox have come to expect and are provided with quality, service and competitive pricing,” Robinson says. “Increasingly, they are asking for solutions that incorporate a supplier diversity commitment - a commitment that Xerox has demonstrated for more than 20 years.”

Pioneering practices
The roots of Xerox’s supplier program date to the late 1960s, when Joseph Wilson, the president of Xerox, wanted to help spark positive change in Rochester after a series of race riots. He arranged a meeting with community activists, which generated an idea for a black-owned and operated manufacturing company that could provide both new pride and new jobs. To help ensure its success, Wilson ensured Xerox would be a customer. Known today as Eltrex, the company remains a Xerox supplier and provides mechanical parts and assemblies used in many Xerox products.

Xerox then began to informally gather more information about its suppliers in response to questions that came up from customers. Soon, the questions were coming more frequently, and in 1985 the formal management program was born, positioning Xerox as a preferred vendor with both government agencies and Fortune 500 accounts.

Today, in addition to Robinson and the global purchasing team, Xerox has a supplier diversity steering committee with representatives from all major Xerox business areas. They help provide strategic direction and support so that Xerox, as a buyer, achieves its supplier use goals and that Xerox, as a vendor, leverages market access initiatives to help Xerox achieve its revenue goals and meet customer requirements.

Award-winning efforts
Over the years, these initiatives have led to several awards from customers, publications and associations, including three top supplier awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration: the Frances Perkins Vanguard Award, recognizing use of woman-owned small businesses; the Dwight D. Eisenhower Award for Excellence, which honors large contractors who use small businesses and subcontractors; and the Award of Distinction, recognizing large federal contractors that have exceptional small business subcontracting programs. “We’re among few companies to have received the ’Triple Crown’ in awards presented by SBA in one calendar year,” Robinson says.

Xerox is also an active member of many associations, including the Upstate New York Regional Minority Purchasing Council, which Robinson chairs; the National Minority Supplier Development Council; and the National Association of Women Business Owners. The company has relationships with groups such as the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, the U.S. Pan-Asian American Chamber of Commerce, the American Indian Chamber of Commerce, the African American Chamber of Commerce, and the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

As a global company, Xerox’s supplier diversity outreach also involves Brazil, Canada and the United Kingdom. For example, in late 2004, Xerox helped launch the Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council, and Xerox Canada CEO Doug Lord serves as the board chairman.

“Within the United States and abroad, operating a strong supplier diversity program has become a business imperative,” Robinson says. “Xerox intends to continue leading with a world-class program that integrates supplier diversity with other business functions, uses advanced tracking and measurement to evaluate progress, and seeks ongoing process improvements to become even stronger.”


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