The issue of diversity in tech is often framed around the workforce. How many minorities are on your engineering team? What about the C-suite? How many women are on the board of directors?
But amid the ongoing national discussion around the lack of diversity in tech and business communities is a less talked about aspect of inclusion: the supply chain.
Today, companies across the world have corporate and government mandates around working with a diverse group of suppliers. But historically, businesses have struggled to get accurate diversity data on companies they contract with.
That’s where Mason-based ConnXus comes in. ConnXus’ platform connects large enterprises with minority and women-owned suppliers. ConnXus can also identify businesses that are veteran, disability, and LGBT-owned to help companies find and connect with a wide range of diverse suppliers.
Launched in 2010, ConnXus has developed a customer base that includes a who’s who of the Fortune 500, like Coca-Cola and Cummins. ConnXus is able to provide these companies with access to diverse suppliers, as well as analytics around spending and company diversity goals.
ConnXus also provides companies with an “economic impact report,” which shows the impact the company’s spending has on the U.S. economy, like how many jobs are being created in inner cities, for example. Those reports have been popular with clients as it helps organizations see how their spending creates real value in the economy.
Finding diverse suppliers can do more than help fulfill a company’s social mission, ConnXus CEO Rod Robinson explained. Having more suppliers bid for services helps drive costs down, and is ultimately good for business.
And speaking of good for business, ConnXus has seen revenue growth increase more than 100 percent year-over-year since 2013, Robinson said. The company has grown from four to 30 employees, and has raised nearly $10 million in venture capital from investors like Techstars Ventures, Serious Change LP, Impact America Fund and CincyTech. ConnXus is also expanding its global operations as more international companies begin using its product.
“We’re really taking supplier diversity mainstream,” Robinson said. “And as a result, supplier diversity is going global.”
Robinson built ConnXus based on a problem he experienced while he was the chief procurement officer at Cincinnati Bell. The local telephone company wanted to spend wth minority-owned businesses, but didn’t have the resources to find diverse companies.
“I was really creating a solution to a problem I had,” he said. “There was no solution that was leveraging tech to simply life of a procurement professional.”