October 7, 2021
Growing up in South Africa during apartheid, Saken Khokhar witnessed the devastating effects of discrimination and segregation, experiences that instilled in her a desire to build more diverse and inclusive societies. Since 2017, as the supplier diversity manager for Boston Scientific, Saken has increased the company’s partnerships with small and diverse businesses by more than 200% and has led the company to spend approximately $1.9 billion on the services of diverse suppliers. In 2020 alone, under Saken’s leadership, Boston Scientific spent $599 million on diverse suppliers.
Saken was recently named president of Diversity Alliance for Science, a national organization that helps strengthen local economies by creating opportunities for small and diverse vendors to build long-lasting partnerships with life sciences companies.
“At Boston Scientific, we know that to meet the needs of approximately 30 million patients each year, we need a wide variety of perspectives. We prioritize working with certified companies that share our dedication to improving the quality of patient care, including businesses that are small and disadvantaged as well as those that are women-owned, minority-owned, veteran-owned, LGBTQ-owned and disability-owned,” says Saken. “I’m honored to be named the next president of Diversity Alliance for Science. This appointment is a testament to our supplier diversity program’s progress and our increased engagement with external organizations that help build robust and diverse supplier networks.”
The pandemic, which took a disproportionate health and economic toll on communities of color, has focused more attention on the need for supplier diversity. “Many people did not understand why certain communities, especially Black communities, were hardest hit, but what we know is that these communities were already struggling with issues like access to capital and racial bias,” says Saken.
Fueled by the pandemic and the company’s overall commitment to contribute to a more equitable and inclusive society, Boston Scientific has increased its focus on Black-owned suppliers in the United States. The company has invested in organizations and programs like the gBeta Medtech Black Founder Accelerator, as well as a new Boston Scientific mentorship program, to increase the number of Black-owned businesses and train Black entrepreneurs to work with companies like Boston Scientific.
Saken maintains that supplier diversity, and the company’s progress to date, is not the result of a single program or person. In July 2021, she introduced a U.S.-wide, employee-focused program to increase contracts with diverse suppliers. The program will educate employees across the company about their role in sourcing and will enlist supplier diversity ambassadors within each business unit to serve as Boston Scientific champions of small and diverse vendors.
“Supplier diversity belongs to every employee. Every employee has the power to influence our decisions to engage small and diverse suppliers,” she says.
As part of the company’s combating racism strategy, Boston Scientific increased its focus on Black-owned suppliers in the United States. BlackDoctor.Org is a Black-owned enterprise that works with our Close the Gap program to help eliminate health disparity gaps
To learn more about the Boston Scientific Supplier Diversity Program, visit our Corporate Social Responsibility website.