Believe it or not, 2021 is the 40th year that Supplier Diversity has been in existence at Altria and its subsidiary companies. The Champions Network (we say "one team, one goal") has been in existence since the inception of Supplier Diversity. Technically, all of Altria’s employees are responsible for championing Supplier Diversity because it takes all of us to make it work and everyone should be held accountable. The team’s role is to increase the use of diverse suppliers in our value chain. This is accomplished by including diverse suppliers in various sourcing strategies, promoting the strategic direction of long-term engagements, helping the Supplier Diversity Department to set functional targets and meet our aspirational goals.
One of the tenets of Our Cultural Aspiration is to do what is right. We work to address and resolve the inequities that are derived from systemic racism and negative stereotypes that surround diverse businesses. To do what is right is to provide equal opportunities to all diverse suppliers and eliminate barriers that prevent them from business opportunities. This is a significant challenge to the Supplier Diversity program, but the cooperation and collaboration of our business clients will help us responsibly support this objective.
I am proud of everything that our Supplier Diversity network does, but one of my proudest accomplishments is their engagement in the 2020 Virtual Business Opportunity Conference which was hosted by the Carolinas-Virginia Minority Supplier Development Council. Altria had the most volunteers participating in support of diverse businesses and assisted with programming efforts to help diverse suppliers rebuild their businesses during the pandemic. I still think about it and smile.
I am most excited to see the results of our efforts. We have been diligent and intentional about re-energizing the Supplier Diversity program and I hope that it results in a positive impact to our diverse suppliers, communities and our business.