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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Breaking barriers: Lisa Hardin’s Odyssey in redefining supplier diversity

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Lisa Hardin
Lisa Hardin

Across the United States, the summer of 2020 served as a nexus moment—sparking corporate commitments to supplier diversity. However, long before that moment, companies across the globe were already recognizing the importance of fostering diverse and inclusive supply chains. When Lisa Hardin began her career in Indianapolis, she never dreamed of becoming a trailblazer in the supplier diversity space. And yet, that’s exactly who she’s become.

Hardin was born a Hoosier, and after graduating from Purdue University, she got married and relocated to the Detroit area where she fell into purchasing in the automotive industry sector working for General Motors.

“While I was initially focused on procurement and purchasing, I quickly found myself doing supplier quality work,” Hardin said. “While it was my first time leading efforts to diversify the supply chain, I naturally fell into this work. I think my upbringing had a very formative impact on my ability to recognize the need for and power of inclusion.”

From local impact…

Hardin’s professional journey evolved as she later returned to Indianapolis and joined Cummins to lead supplier quality initiatives. During that time, she began working firsthand with diverse-owned suppliers, allowing her to better understand the unique perspectives, barriers, and opportunities these vendors provided corporate partners. This experience led to the creation of Cummins’ Tier II program.

“The Tier II program resulted in significant business growth for diverse suppliers, showcasing the impact of supplier diversity initiatives,” said Hardin. “This work was incredibly impactful on businesses but especially on individuals and their families. It was also rewarding to see how suppliers would lean in and fully commit to the certification progress. Seeing them recognize the access they could gain created momentum that was exciting to be a part of.”

…to global impact.

After her tenure at Cummins, Hardin embraced a new opportunity to join Salesforce, a global company known for its strong commitment to inclusivity. As lead of Salesforce’s supplier diversity program, especially after the disproportionate impacts of the global pandemic at the height of racial reckoning after the murder of George Floyd, Hardin was aware of the responsibility she carried in this position.

“My mother is white and my father is Black, and growing up biracial in the 70s, that was uncommon,” Hardin shared. DUring my childhood, I was exposed to so many different cultures, economic variances, and traditions on both sides of my family. This helped shape my worldview, one where I understand that different perspectives make us stronger when we work together. Our differences actually bring out the best in us.”

That posture fits in well with Salesforce, who is working globally to understand who is disproportionately being served to provide relevant and sustainable solutions that create greater opportunities for everyone.

“Through my position at Salesforce, my reach extends across the globe, and that has broadened my understanding of diversity within communities,” Hardin explained. “Salesforce’s commitment to inclusivity has earned recognition not solely based on spending, but because we ensure inclusion across various categories including disabled and LGBTQ suppliers.”

Take Chicago for example, Hardin recently participated in a Hispanic initiative in the Chicagoland area working to equip those business owners with resources to get certified and access a wider network of opportunities. Or in Ireland, where the Salesforce Tower is working to understand gypsy culture and barriers that currently impede their business opportunities. Even in Australia, Salesforce is working with indigenous communities to understand their needs and create programs that allow greater access and opportunity.

“At Salesforce, we recognize that disadvantaged communities exist in every region of the world, and each of those communities is different. By understanding what’s unique about those communities and those disenfranchised community groups, we’re able to create custom programs that meet their specific needs,” Hardin stated.

And while Hardin might not call herself a trailblazer, she’s undoubtedly dedicated her career to supporting diversity in Indianapolis and around the world. She recognizes that we can’t look at happenings as isolated and turn a blind eye. Together, we build a collective ecosystem that is stronger, more powerful, and better, together.

Learn more about Salesforce’s supplier diversity program and register to get involved on their website.

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