CDW’s deep experience, expertise and commitment to diversity excellence is critical to our ongoing success. We invest time building partnerships with our diverse suppliers and in working side-by-side with them to serve our customers. We met with Kristin Malek, Director of Business Diversity, to learn about her role and how CDW helps create economic opportunity, impact and inclusive growth.
I am the Director of Business Diversity at CDW. In this role, I worked to establish an innovative business diversity strategy that aligns with CDW’s core values. As the architect of CDW’s diverse supply chain with more than 1,100 suppliers, I ensure CDW’s continued investment in diversity, equality, and inclusion within their businesses.
Before CDW, I was in a previous sales role for another Fortune 500 company and always thrived in this competitive space. I could count on my thumbs how many times I have missed a sales goal. I loved chasing EBITA (earnings before interest, taxes, and amortization) so much I wanted my license plate to read EBITA. However, 17 other drivers in the Land of Lincoln (Illinois) wanted that exact same thing on their plate, so I’m still on the waiting list.
I had a big life change 12 years ago when my daughter Katelynn was born and diagnosed with Down syndrome. At 28 years old, the most single unexpected moment of my life was having a nurse whisper to me, “you have a baby girl and she has Down syndrome.” The next few months and years were a lot to navigate but what was clear was that I was now forever part of the disability community. And my obsession with EBITA minimized after having Katelynn because when I shopped, watched TV, etc., I realized I didn't see the Down syndrome community getting opportunities to work in robust ways. I decided to be an agent for change and began to establish my career in impactful sourcing and supplier diversity. This path has been the best of both worlds for me - working within a competitive sales culture and meeting sales goals AND advocating for the underutilized and underrepresented communities in a meaningful way.
We formalized our business diversity program back in 2007 before diversity was a trend and now table stakes. At CDW, diversity has always been a long-term business solution. That’s because for us business diversity is not about expenditure targets or handouts, but rather we partner with an extensive network of the most creative, innovative, and competitive suppliers to deliver the best solutions and experiences for our customers. Since 2007, we have facilitated more than $17 billion of direct and indirect spending with small, minority-owned firms, including $2.6 billion in 2020.
We have seen first-hand the impact of business diversity and how it creates a multiplier effect by letting small, minority-owned firms invest in their own growth and spend more with other businesses in their supply chain. This, in turn, generates jobs, increases wages and boosts spending in local communities.
What’s more, helping customers – new and existing – achieve their diversity goals easily and cost-effectively is just one of the many benefits our business diversity program offers. It has a proven impact on value creation. For example, people are increasingly looking to buy from and work for organizations that share their values around diversity, inclusion and social justice. By partnering with our network of small and minority-owned firms, our customers can meet the expectations of both their clients and their own employees, ultimately enhancing their ability to attract and retain them. Similarly, working with us to diversify their supply chain also lets our customers benefit from the heightened levels of innovation and competition found among smaller businesses and gain first-mover advantage on cutting-edge technologies. And, crucially, it helps them boost resiliency and agility in the face of disruption, a key competitive advantage in today’s unpredictable world.
a diverse supplier base can help organizations build a brighter, more prosperous future for themselves while also contributing to the economic well-being of all segments of the global population
The extraordinary challenges of the last two years have highlighted how a diverse supplier base can help organizations build a brighter, more prosperous future for themselves while also contributing to the economic well-being of all segments of the global population. At CDW, we’re proud to be at the very forefront of that journey. In 2022, we more than doubled the size of our Business Diversity Program team to ensure that we’re taking a customized, regional approach that can better serve our diverse partners to establish local economies of scale.
In 2019, CDW was inducted into the prestigious Billion Dollar Roundtable (BDR). CDW is one of 28 global organizations that has been inducted in the BDR over a 20-year time frame and in 2021, CDW was named a Supplier Diversity Excellence Champion by Gartner. Both create a demand signal to our customers and partners that CDW can be their trusted partner with impactful sourcing while creating equitable supply chains for them and that’s where I want us to be – at the center of our customers’ missions orchestrating solutions that are revenue enabling and economically empowering.
I have a mentor that coaches me on the 3 A’s: be accountable, be aware and be available to your teams, your customers, your community, and yourself. Another piece of advice that I have labeled on my laptop is “You learn when you listen” – be a good listener.
Learn more about CDW's business diversity program.