Supplier Diversity and Cadence Bank

diverse hands

Cadence Bank launched a supplier diversity program and portal to build on the company’s continuous commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion of all businesses.

Cadence Bank is demonstrating its commitment to diversity by connecting with diverse vendors for products and services through its Supplier Diversity Program.

A dedicated portal, available at, lets businesses led by women, minorities, LGBTQ+ people and Veterans register to compete for the company’s business for goods, services and contracts. The portal also serves as a hub of supplier information that Cadence Bank will use when considering vendors.

“The supplier diversity portal promotes an environment conducive to providing all suppliers, regardless of size, equal access to sourcing, contracting and purchasing opportunities and further encourages our utilization of diverse suppliers, including women, minority, LGBTQ+ and Veteran-owned enterprises,” said Sandra Surma, director of supplier diversity at Cadence Bank.

How does the Supplier Diversity Program work?

Companies are encouraged to register on the Cadence Supplier Diversity portal to be listed in a database with other diverse companies. These businesses submit a questionnaire and must be certified that they are at least 51% owned and controlled by an identified diverse segment, such as a Disability-Owned Business Enterprise; Women-Owned Business Enterprise; Veteran-Owned Business; Minority Business Enterprise; or Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender-Owned Business.

“We want to ensure the companies are getting and keeping those certifications,” Surma says. “For companies that qualify and aren’t certified, either because they are not able to afford it or they aren’t connected with the right agencies, we want to help with that. It’s part of the function of this outreach.”

The benefits of supplier diversity

Cadence Bank is determined to advance business opportunities for diverse businesses and to further economic development and a culture of inclusivity in the communities it serves. Here are some of the many benefits of supplier diversity:

Forging new relationships

Use of diverse-owned businesses diversifies a company’s relationships. By setting out to achieve diversity in the use of businesses owned by minorities, women, Veterans and other groups, companies can experience diversity of thought, experience and approach to business.

Discovering diverse existing relationships

Businesses may find their current suppliers are already certified as diverse. These suppliers are likely among the most valuable to the company because they consider their certifications a differentiator on top of, not instead of, providing substantial value and running a competitive operation.

Driving innovation

Certified diverse businesses may have walked a unique path to reach their destination and picking up different techniques along the way. These unique suppliers offer even the largest corporations the opportunity to look at their challenges in an entirely new light and implement new solutions.

Creating supply chain resilience

Many smaller businesses, which may be more diverse, have built up supply chains that vary from those of their much larger competitors. Steps companies can take to diversify their suppliers and their supply chains will give them more options.

How supplier diversity has paid dividends so far

Surma says the program started in July 2021 and is still building for the future.

“The framework is really the backbone of the supplier diversity program, and that’s what we’ve completed at this point,” she says.

“Now we are starting to put the elements that support the program into place, so we’re looking at stronger procurement practices and internal policies and procedures that will help drive our internal lines of business to consider and use diverse suppliers,” Surma says.

Recently, Surma partnered with the company’s Corporate Facilities team to bid a major corporate relocation project. Two of the three general contractor finalists that submitted bids were certified Women’s Business Enterprises (WBE), with the awardee being one of the area’s top WBEs. Cadence also engaged an architect that is a certified WBE for the project.

How the Supplier Diversity Program fits Cadence’s focus on DEI

Surma says this program is an outgrowth of Cadence Bank’s values.

“Embracing inclusivity is one of our company’s values and it’s central to our supplier diversity program,” she says. “We’re investing in these opportunities to cultivate relationships with diverse suppliers and benefit the communities we serve. We want to emphasize that it’s important for them to get and keep their certifications, and we want to help them do that. These certifications can help diverse businesses qualify for special perks, programs and opportunities that will help them grow and be successful, and that’s a win for everyone.”

Future plans for the Supplier Diversity Program

The Supplier Diversity Program is backed by the company’s five-year, proactive diverse supplier business strategy, which is focused on policy development, marketing and communications, data analytics and tracking, incremental program goal setting, and program metrics and expectations. Collectively, these strategic initiatives will advance business opportunities for diverse businesses and assist Cadence Bank in furthering economic development and a culture of inclusivity in the communities it serves.

“We are intent on being a trailblazer in supplier diversity among financial organizations, giving all businesses an opportunity to participate in our procurement efforts and helping to position diverse suppliers for long-term success,” Surma says.

Surma says that enhancements are planned for the program in 2023 and beyond.

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This article is provided as a free service to you and is for general informational purposes only. Cadence Bank makes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or timeliness of the content in the article. The article is not intended to provide legal, accounting or tax advice and should not be relied upon for such purposes.

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