MBEConnect Profiles Magazine

September 19, 2011

Supplier Diversity Spotlight: US Cellular

Making supplier diversity a competitive advantage.

Headquartered in Chicago, U.S. Cellular is among the largest wireless telecommunication networks in the country and ranks among the top for customer satisfaction ratings. This prestige comes not only from great customer service and product quality, but from a strong supplier diversity program that serves as a cornerstone of the company.

An increasing number of U.S. Cellular customers are women, minorities and small businesses; U.S. Cellular strives for its supply chain to reflect the communities it serves. The main goal of the supplier diversity program at U.S. Cellular is to develop mutually beneficial relationships with diverse suppliers, which are carefully selected through the competitive bidding process. From the perspective of U.S. Cellular, supplier diversity leads to bidding advantages, community support and customer loyalty.

Greg Hinton serves as the Senior Director and Chief Diversity Strategist and has been with U.S. Cellular for ten years. He sums up the supplier diversity program as a way “to develop mutually beneficial relationships with diverse suppliers.”

Get Your Company Involved with U.S. Cellular Supplier Diversity

The U.S. Cellular supplier diversity program emphasizes early involvement as a key factor in awarding diversity opportunities. Preparing proposals and an annual plan takes time, so interested suppliers are encouraged to start the process as early as possible.

Opportunities for supplier participation include: advertising, sales, information technology, legal services, manufacturing, warehouse, packaging and distribution; IT consulting and post-sales support. First tier suppliers are preferred at U.S. Cellular in order to create long-term strategic business relationships.

U.S. Cellular frequently works with the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), Women’s Business Development Council (WBENC), Small Business Administration (SBA), Association for Service Disabled Veterans (ASDV). Only suppliers certified through these recognized agencies are considered for the company’s supplier diversity program.

Participant Expectations

U.S. Cellular relies on a competitive bid process to select the highest quality suppliers for the program. “Diverse suppliers are selected only if value is demonstrated. This is achieved primarily through the competitive bid process,” says Greg Hinton.

Strong supplier diversity serves as an asset for U.S. Cellular, and though its goals are lofty, it does not mean settling for less than stellar service. U.S. Cellular views supplier diversity as a business advantage, not a compromise. “Supplier diversity leads to increased competitiveness for U.S. Cellular, as it leads to a broader vendor base and savings for the company and its customers,” states Hinton. Suppliers seeking to participate in the program must understand that U.S. Cellular does not compromise on quality or higher cost to meet its supplier diversity goals.

Supplier Application Requirements

Along with other requirements, the U.S. Cellular program requires diverse suppliers to submit an Annual Plan and quarterly reports with clearly identified goals and plans. The mandatory Annual Plan must include estimated sales to U.S. Cellular, supplier diversity performance goals, an action plan and a list of subcontracting or other teaming arrangements. This Annual Plan is included as an exhibit in contracts and reviewed upon annual renewal. Quarterly reports are also required for all participants and must include company revenue from U.S. Cellular and actual diversity participation.

These milestones and outlines help U.S. Cellular maintain regular contact with suppliers and leads to continuous improvement for both the supplier and the corporation. Through the competitive bid process and highly-structured application process, businesses can expect to build long-term, mutually beneficial relationship
with U.S. Cellular.

Get Started Now

Get involved with U.S. Cellular’s Supplier Diversity Program by following these links:





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  1. [...] over the years. MBEConnect has worked directly with Mr. Hinton in the past, and included him in a feature on the U.S. Cellular supplier diversity program in the most recent issue of MBEConnect Profiles [...]

  2. [...] over the years. MBEConnect has worked directly with Mr. Hinton in the past, and included him in a feature on the U.S. Cellular supplier diversity program in the most recent issue of MBEConnect Profiles [...]

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