Our teams are focused on building diversity and inclusion into every aspect of our company, and this mindset extends to our supply chain. As the Supplier Diversity Manager at Boston Scientific, Saken Khokhar is charged with setting our supplier diversity policies, goals and targets to align with our values and business objectives. In 2018, we worked with more than 700 diverse suppliers, including minority-owned businesses, women-owned businesses, small or disadvantaged businesses, veteran-owned businesses, LGBTQ businesses, disability-owned businesses and historically underutilized businesses.
Here, Saken shares why supplier diversity is crucial and reflects on some recent milestones in the supplier diversity program at Boston Scientific.
Why are supplier diversity initiatives so important to Boston Scientific and how do these programs translate into benefits for our customers?
To meet the unique needs of 30 million patients each year, we need a wide variety of perspectives. Our products help patients from a diverse array of backgrounds, races and cultures. It’s only fitting that our suppliers should also reflect the diverse groups of patients that we serve.
Diverse suppliers contribute everything from A to Z in our supply chain. From sourcing manufacturing materials to managing the distribution of Boston Scientific products to 130 countries, they help us ensure our products are in the right place at the right time to help patients.
Diverse vendors also bring new and innovative ideas to our business. We work with many businesses who provide indirect services, such as consulting or technology platforms. These suppliers allow us to approach problems from different angles, think more creatively and better serve patients.
How does Boston Scientific support small and diverse businesses?
When looking for new companies to partner with, we use an inclusive procurement process and are always looking to partner with diverse companies that share our dedication to improving patient care. We conduct capability assessments with diverse suppliers and participate in trade shows that promote these unique businesses. In 2018, $322 million of our spend was attributed to our work with diverse suppliers, and this year we’re aiming to increase spending with diverse suppliers by five percent.
Building up a strong network of diverse suppliers takes a huge amount of collaboration across teams. We work closely with our Diversity and Inclusion team and gather input from our employee resource groups. Supplier diversity is an important initiative for our Corporate Social Responsibility Council and we have the support of senior leaders across Boston Scientific.
What new initiatives are you most excited about?
Recently, Boston Scientific helped start up the Massachusetts LGBT Chamber of Commerce as a founding member. Through this group, we’re giving LGBTQ businesses a larger forum to showcase their services and find opportunities for partnerships. I’m excited about how this group will give new opportunities to these business leaders and also enrich our community as a whole.
We’re also expanding our focus on mentorship in the medtech space this year, and exploring opportunities to educate historically underrepresented entrepreneurs, including women. Through my own conversations with small business founders, I know there is significant demand for these types of mentorship programs to help answer questions and build relationships.
How did you get to this point and what inspired you to focus on supplier diversity?
I was born and raised in South Africa, and the importance of diversity has always been apparent to me in every facet of my life. Watching the devastating effects of discrimination has left me with a passion to obliterate this injustice in any way within my power and influence. Supplier diversity isn’t a new concept, but there is a lot of attention going into this space. Every person should be aware of the direct impact they can make by choosing to support small and diverse vendors in their personal and professional lives.
What has surprised you the most about your work?
The supplier diversity community, across industries, is a very open and collaborative group of people. All are willing to share best practices and ideas. It’s an enriching environment to be a part of. In this line of work, I get to meet and interact with people from all different walks of life. I get to learn how their backgrounds, experiences and cultures inspire their passion and creativity. I’m proud that I get to bring those unique perspectives to Boston Scientific so we can better help patients around the world.