Dell’s Support Helps Diverse Suppliers Scale

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This post is co-authored by Erica Hess

Last week, I was surrounded by female entrepreneurs at the largest conference for women business-owners in the U.S. Their enthusiasm and determination assures me that these women will not let obstacles deter them from their entrepreneurial goals.

But those obstacles remain: Women on average start their businesses with half as much capital as men, and they also have only a 30 percent chance of attracting angel and venture capital funding. (Businessmen Watch Out: Women Entrepreneurs are Right Behind, Cina Coren, 2015)

This was the Women’s Business Enterprises’ National Council annual  conference (WBENC), a conference and organization that Dell has partnered with Dell for about 10 years.

It’s critical that large companies like Dell support women- and minority- run businesses by integrating them into our supply chain. In my role leading Supply Chain Responsibility at Dell, I’ve seen firsthand that ensuring diversity in our supply chain means we are accessing the very best of what suppliers have to offer, connecting to our own entrepreneurial roots and ultimately delivering the best value to our customers.

Women-owned entities represent more than 30 percent of registered businesses worldwide (International Finance Corporation). Yet according to WEConnect International, those women-owned businesses are earning less than one percent of the money large corporations and governments spend on vendors. It’s just one example of how diverse businesses are missing out on opportunities.

Dell is working to change this. In FY16, we spent $4.9 billion with small, women-owned, and minority-owned businesses. Plus, over the last decade, our mentoring, training and networking programs have helped thousands of diverse suppliers scale their businesses.

In 2000, Dell hired OrangeDoor, a woman-owned small business, to support the Dell Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region’s communications team during a major event in New York. At that time, the newly formed London-based integrated marketing agency only had three fulltime employees. This successful project led to another, and today OrangeDoor has more than 35 employees and says Dell has been instrumental in its growth.Elizabeth Heron is the founder of OrangeDoor, a London-based marketing agency and one of Dell’s diverse suppliers.

“As an independent small business, we often rely on our own initiative and support system. But working with Dell, I have a supplier diversity mentor with whom I meet with monthly. Her expertise has boosted my knowledge of procurement best practices,” said OrangeDoor Founder Elizabeth Heron. “We’ve also been able to network with company directors and discover so many new opportunities within Dell and with other clients. I’m thrilled at how Dell has helped a company of our size open up amazing opportunities!”

For another longtime Dell supplier, SIC, such programs have helped the woman-owned business grow throughout Latin America. Dell hired SIC in 2005 to provide warranty services in Mexico. SIC has grown with Dell, expanding its services to Dell Carry-in Service Centers in 14 countries and opening offices in Colombia, Argentina and Chile. Through Dell, SIC has also become involved in international networking groups like WEConnect.

“Working in a male-oriented business society has historically presented some challenges for companies like ours,” said SIC Chief Executive Officer Leticia Martinez. “But Dell has been very supportive and over 11 years we’ve quickly evolved from service provider to true business partner.”

These are just two of the many success stories of our diverse suppliers, and it’s exciting to hear how our commitment and partnership is helping small, women- and minority- owned businesses scale and grow. So what’s ahead for Dell’s supplier diversity program?

These days it’s all about expanding the great program we’ve built and using what we’ve learned to create an even bigger impact for Dell and our diverse suppliers. One of the things I’m most excited about is specific to women-owned businesses. Today, many women-owned companies must choose between being certified as a diverse supplier gaining entry into large corporations, like Dell, or accessing the equity capital they may need to grow their business. We’re working with specific certifying bodies to potentially change the certification criteria so that women-owned businesses can attain diverse certification and access capital, thus eliminating the need to choose.

Another interesting side of our work is expanding our supplier diversity program into the Channel. Several of our Channel partners have expressed interest in being recognized as diverse so they can take advantage of business opportunities within Dell. We’re taking what we learned to build a supplier diversity program outside of the U.S. and applying it to the Channel. Stay tuned.

Supplier Diversity will continue to be a priority for Dell, and that’s something that makes us incredibly proud.  

To learn about other ways Dell’s Legacy of Good goals are paying off for suppliers, customers, communities and the planet, visit

Dell is committed to continually enhancing social and environmental responsibility in our supply chain. Learn more at

About the Author: Jennifer Allison

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