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Russ Kenworthy, strategic purchasing manager, Itron Itron is a technology

and services

company dedicated to the resourceful use of energy and water. An

inclusive supplier base brings a diversity of thought, style, approach, talent

and innovation to the supply chain and helps define a smarter future. We formalized our supplier diversity program in 2010, though we’ve worked with diverse suppliers for a number of years. The program is designed to increase the incorporation of minority, women and service­disabled veteran­owned small businesses into our procurement decisions. We recognize that supplier diversity is a strategic business decision and a key component of our future growth. Our utility customers also have diversity­focused demands, which are tracked by first and second tier spends.

One of the many benefits of our supplier diversity program is

the visibility it brings into lesser­known manufacturers, which have shown they can offer high quality and be cost competitive, thus resulting in cost savings for Itron.

The Itron Oconee facility already had a

successful business relationship with Alfa Electronics, which happened to be a woman­owned business. We encouraged Alfa to pursue WBENC certification to help document more diversity spend. Initially starting out as primarily a shortage supplier, our mentoring program helped it in its quest to transition to that of a full­service franchised distributor for products used on our bill of materials.

When participating in business opportunities

with us, diversity suppliers must compete at the same level as any other supplier with pricing, delivery and support. They must also meet the same quality standards as our large and/or global distributor partners. Itron embraces the benefits of utilizing our supplier diversity program without giving up any competitive advantage in the open market.

16 | February 2014

Gwen Johnson, supplier diversity coordinator, Eaton’s Cooper Power Systems Business

Our customers are committed to ensuring that diverse suppliers have the opportunity to compete in the global marketplace ­ it is important for us to mirror that commitment of our

customers. By diversifying our supplier base, we have the potential to receive better pricing for products

and services, better or expanded levels of service and other benefits.

We further the development and growth of local MWDVBEs

through providing equal access to bidding opportunities, which in turn supports the increased revenue and employment growth of those diverse businesses.

We ask that our internal staff support supplier diversity by

also being advocates for their individual business units, identifying purchases/project opportunities to include diverse suppliers and supporting local diverse businesses inside and outside Eaton’s Cooper Power Systems.

Bettina Clark summarizes

In conclusion, supplier diversity adds value far beyond the obvious. Diversity suppliers are no longer just perceived as ‘social responsibility’. They bring true value in a classic business sense in that they must think beyond the competitive giant’s constraints by introducing creative and nontraditional solutions to varying difficulties and challenges. All this, without compromising quality in manufacturing,

engineering support, cost reduction and savings, service, delivery and logistics.



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