Diversity and Inclusion Power Northrop Grumman’s Supply Chain

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By Jessie Wagoner

Northrop Grumman, a leading global security company, provides innovative systems, products and solutions to government and commercial customers worldwide, offering an extraordinary portfolio of capabilities and technologies for applications from undersea to outer space and into cyberspace. They have successfully leveraged supplier diversity and inclusion to help propel the company forward.

“We believe that creating a workforce, a workplace and a supplier base that values diversity and fosters inclusion is pivotal to promoting innovation and increasing productivity and profitability,” says Gloria Pualani, corporate director, global supplier diversity programs/government relations. “Our goal is to continually support and nurture the large number of Northrop Grumman employees and suppliers whose backgrounds, characteristics and perspectives are as diverse as the global communities in which we reside. We are committed to leveraging our organizational diversity through teamwork, cross-functional collaboration and joint ventures to help us meet and exceed our business goals and ensure our role as a leader in our industry.”

For Northrop Grumman, being an industry leader is about more than just performance. The company is guided by the values that define it – responsibility, trust, integrity and supporting its customer’s missions worldwide. Those values inspire and unite Northrop Grumman employees.

The company launched its supplier diversity program in the early 1980’s, focusing on developing a strong foundation to assist in the implementation of new performance measures and reporting requirements. The goal is to cultivate and maintain an outstanding supply chain consisting of suppliers that provide high value to Northrop Grumman and its customers. Melissa Poli, small business liaison officer, global supplier diversity programs, says the company’s commitment to supplier diversity extends beyond the federally recognized small business supplier diversity goals to add depth and breadth to Northrop Grumman’s supply chain.

“Our global supplier diversity program is designed to expand subcontracting opportunities for all small business concerns, including small disadvantaged and minority-owned, women-owned, historically underutilized business zones, veteran-owned, service-disabled, veteran-owned, LGBTQ-owned, disability-owned, historically black colleges and universities and minority institutions,” Poli says. “Inclusion of LGBTQ suppliers simply adds to the richness of our already robust portfolio of diverse suppliers that contribute to the success of our organization and is a direct reflection of our corporate culture.”

The focus on diversity and inclusion helps foster their external relationships through their diversity and inclusion and global supplier diversity programs at the enterprise level and at the local level. The company leverages employee resource groups to contribute to various organizations at conferences and outreach events and hosts matchmaking events for the purpose of introducing diverse suppliers to prime contractors. “We sponsor events aimed at connecting small LGBTQ suppliers with prime contractors for teaming consideration,” Poli said. “The most recent matchmaking event involving LGBTQ-owned businesses was at the end of February in Herndon, VA. Representatives from approximately 30 small LGBTBEs, the Small Business Administration (SBA), Department of Health and Human Services and eight prime contractors attended. Small business owners traveled from Colorado, Texas and Florida, as well as locals from Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia.”

The one-day event featured technical training, informational workshops, a panel discussion with prime contractors, networking luncheon and matchmaking. The panel allowed Northrop Grumman and other firms to share information about services and technologies they need, the agencies they support and how small LGBTBEs should engage with their companies. These efforts to advance business equality have garnered Northrop Grumman a number of awards and recognition.

In 2017, Poli received the Supplier Diversity Advocate of the Year honor from the NGLCC. The company was named one of National Business Inclusion Consortium’s Best-of-the-Best in 2016, 2017 and 2018. Northrop Grumman was also ranked #2 on America’s Top 50 Organization for Multicultural Business Opportunities by and is a recipient of the Business Equality Network Pride Business Equality Excellence Award.

Moving forward, supplier diversity is set to remain a crucial part of the company’s success.

“Supplier diversity and inclusion are key factors in building a strong, secure business base and they will continue to be so domestically and internationally,” Pualani said. “One of our main goals is to continue to produce the highest quality products and services to our customers. Diversity and inclusion are essential to that goal. They allow us access to those high performing, innovative and game-changing companies who can provide the technologically advanced products and services we need to stay on the cutting edge.”

Business Equality Pride (BEQPride) is the first publication from the BEQ family of national print and digital magazines exclusively addressing the needs of LGBTQ small-to-medium sized businesses, entrepreneurs and professionals.