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Supporting social equity, creating opportunities, and enhancing business: A look at our supplier diversity program

 Supplier diversity, which is the practice of strategically encouraging the use of businesses owned by BIPOC (Black, indigenous and people of color) groups, women, veterans, LGBTQ or people with disabilities has become an area of increasing focus for organizations today.

Many of the events over the last two years have taught us that we need to play an active role in respecting the rights of people of all backgrounds and abilities. Businesses have a substantial opportunity to step up and be part of the solution in building stronger communities.

At Iron Mountain, we established a supplier diversity program more than 20 years ago. Now we’re significantly increasing our focus and investment. This year, our corporate goal is to spend $63 million with diverse suppliers, a five-percent increase over 2020.

Why have a supplier diversity program?

It's another opportunity for us to invest in our communities, which is a priority for us as a business. It allows us to reward ambition, innovation and hard work. Doing business with diverse firms creates jobs and provides incentives for others to build their own businesses. It creates new growth opportunities for our suppliers and enhances their reputations.

Supplier diversity also pays off for Iron Mountain. By doing business with people from a multitude of backgrounds we gain the benefits of ideas and perspectives that might not otherwise be obvious. Using diverse suppliers helps us make our own products and services more accessible and relevant to all customers, open new channels for recruiting talent and enhance our reputation for inclusion.

One success story is our partnership with Magellan Transport Logistics, a certified Service Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business that specializes in third-party logistics. Magellan has strong government relationships by virtue of the federal government’s aim to award at least three percent of all contracting dollars to small businesses owned by disabled veterans each year.

The perspective Magellan brings to our transportation strategy has been essential for us in obtaining different perspectives and providing more creative transportation solutions to our customers. Plus, Magellan’s veteran workforce has deep experience transporting large and unwieldy items like aircraft engines. They’ve been a source of invaluable advice to us on jobs involving unusual shipping demands.

“They’re always my go-to solution for something we’re not sure how to handle because they think differently and have a varied experience,” says Scott Demers, Iron Mountain’s Senior Category Manager for Operations

Supplier diversity in action

There are a number of ways organizations can build and support a formal supplier diversity program. At Iron Mountain, we are taking a number of steps to ensure the success of our own program.

  • Access to supplier diversity professionals and leaders. A team of Iron Mountain sourcing professionals recently attended the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) Virtual Conference and Business Opportunity Fair. It’s the nation’s premier forum for minority supplier development and provides us with access to more than 6,000 executives and supplier diversity professionals from top multinational companies, as well as leaders of a number of diverse suppliers.
  • Participate in industry organizations. We’re stepping up our efforts to identify new suppliers through our memberships in such organizations as the National Minority Supplier Development Council, National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, Women's Business Enterprise National Council, Disability:In, Australia’s Supply Nation and in 2022 joining the Minority Supplier Development UK.
  • Incorporate diverse suppliers in our procurement process. We hold regular pitch sessions to understand the supplier’s capabilities in an informal meeting. The audience consists of the supplier, procurement manager and the internal business customer. This year we also created teams and new processes that incorporate consideration of diverse suppliers as an element of all request for proposals (RFPs). This doesn’t mean diverse suppliers get preference in contract decisions, but our procurement teams must make reasonable efforts to include them in the bidding process.

Altogether, these efforts help us discover RFP candidates and ensure that they have a place in our procurement processes.

Recognition and ratings

As a result of our increased focus on supplier diversity, we received positive recognition from some of our business partners. JP Morgan Chase recently named us as one of just 43 of its Gold Suppliers, the top designation for businesses that commit to increasing their own spending with diverse suppliers.

Iron Mountain also recently achieved a Level 2 rating on South Africa’s Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) scorecard. That’s the second-highest rating under the B-BBEE legislation, which is aimed at addressing historical imbalances in the country by facilitating the participation of black people in the mainstream economy. The improved rating not only recognizes our inclusion efforts but also opens the door to a wider range of government and private contracts.

There are more than 8 million businesses owned by BIPOC groups, women, veterans, LGBTQ or people with disabilities in the U.S. and the number of women-owned businesses grew 58 percent between 2007 and 2018. Clearly, the time is right for corporations like Iron Mountain to encourage and promote the contributions of diverse enterprises.

Learn more about our supplier diversity and sustainability progress and goals.