Suppliers are important to Altria because we believe our suppliers are our business partners, and they directly help the success of our companies. As with any business partner, we think it's important to show appreciation for our relationship, so this past year, we decided to pilot the return of our supplier recognition program. We wanted to recognize suppliers for going above and beyond their normal call of duty.
We identified three different award categories that we wanted to highlight suppliers for their achievements in, after collaborating with internal stakeholders. The first was around supplier diversity. Is the supplier contributing to our enterprise supplier diversity and inclusion initiative of 15% in five years, either directly through their own company or downstream indirectly? The second award was around innovation – how is the supplier helping us to think outside the box? Are they bringing us new ideas? And then the third was around focused resources. Is the supplier helping to contribute to any kind of efficiencies or any simplification efforts? But then ultimately, are they bringing back productivity or cost savings that get passed back to both our businesses?
Once we established these categories and criteria, we extended the nomination process out across the enterprise. Our Procurement organization, supplier managers that sit in the business and our network of champions for supplier diversity were encouraged to submit nominations for their supplier partners. From these nominations we selected the top 10 and invited them to an award ceremony where we had executive leadership in attendance as well as numerous internal business departments.
It was a great event, and we were very proud of the day once everything was said and done. Our suppliers in attendance were so happy and very appreciative that their work was getting noticed. They all have a lot of pride, passion and integrity. The recognition was important to them and seems to have started creating healthy competition among our suppliers. They're really looking forward to seeing how the program evolves and how they can contribute.
We're hoping to include our internal supplier scorecard to inform nominations going forward, and expanding nomination categories to potentially include quality, cost savings and corporate social responsibility. It's amazing what a simple thank you can do and it’s important because our suppliers really are an extension of our businesses and contribute to our overall success at Altria.