According to a 2012 survey from CAPS Research, nearly 72 percent of organizations expect their total supplier diversity program spend to increase by 2014. 1 To better position minority and women business enterprises (MWBEs) to capitalize on this growth, Cintas Corporation (NASDAQ: CTAS), today shared its top five strategies for supplier diversity success. “Whether it’s a Fortune 500 company or a smaller organization, effective corporate supplier diversity programs like Cintas’ focus on providing current and potential suppliers with tools for success,” said Pamela Brailsford, senior director of supplier diversity and sustainability. “Suppliers should seek out organizations that enable them to learn new ways to better their businesses.” 1. Seek out award-winning organizations: Although awards aren’t the end-all-be-all, they identify organizations with a real commitment to working with and developing diverse suppliers. These are bestowed by both national and local organizations, often on an annual basis. 2. Attend effective business development courses: Organizations that truly care about supplier diversity often offer training classes for suppliers. These allow suppliers to learn critical strategies that encourage a competitive business advantage. After attending a training workshop, suppliers should be better able to promote their business. 3. Network: Networking with sourcing and diversity leaders at tradeshows or local events allows suppliers to build relationships with people who make decisions in regards to supplier selection. Additionally, it allows suppliers to get advice and feedback on ways to improve their selling strategy. 4. Identify mentors early on: Suppliers should find at least one mentor, and preferably more, who can serve as coaches to employees and executives. Organizations with best-in-class supplier diversity programs may have formal mentoring programs in place to pair passionate leaders with minority and women-owned businesses (MWBEs) to consult them on their business strategies. 5. Define your differentiators: Corporations today want and need suppliers that produce a quality product or provide a quality service at a reduced cost. Additionally, they want a supplier base that reflects their customers. Identify which factors set your organization apart from the competition and highlight them whenever possible. “Cintas’ corporate-wide supplier diversity initiatives encourage the inclusion of MWBEs whenever possible and provide training courses and mentoring to promote long-term success for suppliers,” added Brailsford. “We’re proud to say that our efforts for helping suppliers develop best-in-class operations haven’t gone unnoticed. We recently accepted the 2013 MBE Empowerment Award for supporting MBE education and training opportunities from the South Central Ohio Minority Supplier Development Council (SCOMSDC).” Presented by Darryl Peal, CEO of SCOMSDC, the award recognizes businesses that demonstrate an exceptional commitment to facilitating development for minority and woman-owned businesses within the community. SCOMSDC has previously recognized Cintas with its Trailblazer Award and its Class II “Corporation of the Year” Award.