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Inclusive Diversity & Equity

Doubling diverse supplier spending by 2025: Allstate's bold goals for broader opportunities

Allstate has made bold diversity pledges since George Floyd's murder in 2020. As 2022 comes to a close, we're making progress and creating more opportunities for equity.

Senior Vice President of Sourcing and Procurement Solutions Cheryl Harris speaking at a Business Diversity Summit, 2019.

To influence change, Senior Vice President of Sourcing and Procurement Cheryl Harris says we're going to have to do things differently, so we've taken that opportunity with our Business Diversity Program.

November 18, 2022

In 2020, Allstate set a companywide goal: to increase annual spending with diverse suppliers from $235 million in 2020 to $470 million by 2025. Halfway through the timeline for that pledge, the changes we've made across the business are having a trickle-down effect on the way Allstate operates.

Here's how it's working.

Each Allstate business area is working with the Business Diversity and Sourcing and Procurement Solutions teams to create goals for measuring spending with businesses owned by minorities, women, veterans, members of the LGBTQ+ community and people with disabilities.

"If we really want to drive the change that needs to happen in America, we're going to have to do things differently," said Cheryl Harris, senior vice president, Sourcing and Procurement Solutions. "We've taken the opportunity to do some of that within procurement."

Take Allstate's Enterprise Solutions team, which includes the company's large technology division. Just three quarters into the year, Enterprise Solutions exceeded its 2022 goal to allocate 12% of its spending to diverse suppliers.

'A commitment to getting it done'

The beginning of the initiative was simple: a commitment to the goal.

The Enterprise Solutions team took a thoughtful look at where it was spending and where it could make meaningful changes.

"It's easy to get caught up in what we've always done and who we've always done it with. We've really taken the approach of asking, 'Why not?' It's amazing how often you can have that conversation when it becomes a commitment to getting it done."

Dave St. Clair
Vice President, Allstate Hosting Services


Challenging old ways to create new opportunities

Enterprise Solutions identified new and expanded ways to do business with current diverse suppliers.

"There were some suppliers that have always been on our roster, but we were using them for very small and specific things," Harris said. "And we started to ask, 'What if they could service this?' Or, 'What would it take for us to leverage them in this specific capacity?' Versus, 'Here are all the reasons that we can't.'"

Allstate has taken a new approach to the time it takes to gain new suppliers, too – expediting the typically months-long procurement process through accelerated contracting. In this new "speed dating" approach, Procurement vets and contacts diverse suppliers we know fit Allstate's criteria.

'A partnership that we're extremely proud of'

Allstate has a long history of business diversity, going back to the Minority and Female Vendor Opportunity Program launched in 1973. Our current initiative began in 2003 as the Supplier Diversity Program to find diverse suppliers, invite them to compete for procurement opportunities and help them network with other large purchasers beyond Allstate.

"To be considered equal in looking at RFPs [requests for proposal] or looking at opportunities is extremely significant," said Cathy Hill, who was one of the only women in her industry when she co-founded HOBI International Inc. in 1992. The Batavia, Illinois-based company has been a supplier for Allstate for nearly 20 years, protecting data and disposing of devices safely and sustainably.

"As a company owner, I don't want to be engaged strictly because I'm a women-owned business; I want to be engaged because I'm a women-owned business that provides best-in-class services," Hill said. "And when you have a client that recognizes that, it's an important partnership and a partnership that we're extremely proud of."

Suppliers aren't the only ones benefiting from Allstate's spending on business diversity. It has a ripple effect:

  • Every dollar spent with Allstate's diverse suppliers drives $1.75 in total economic production.
  • Women- and minority-owned businesses tend to hire more women and minorities, respectively, research has shown.
  • It brings jobs to communities. Last year, Allstate's spending with diverse suppliers supported 2,296 jobs and $125 million in wages and benefits.

"My father and other relatives worked for small businesses in our community," said Harris, who grew up in Chicago. "I've personally benefited and seen how diverse suppliers can help improve and strengthen communities."

'That fair chance to … be taken to the next level'

Business diversity is about more than just contracts. Ann Ramakumaran appreciated that she and her team had face time with Allstate leaders when her company, Ampcus, went through accelerated contracting.

The minority-owned technology consulting and services firm, based in Chantilly, Virginia, signed a contract with Allstate in July 2022.

"Meetings like those is what all diverse suppliers look for," Ramakumaran said. "That fair chance to present to senior leadership and then be taken to the next level."

Closing the wealth gap: how Allstate is helping diverse businesses grow their networks

  • The Supplier Diversity Exchange, which began in 2008, brings diverse suppliers together with Allstate decision-makers and major suppliers and strategic partners. This year, the event expanded to a full week of learning and networking for suppliers and Allstate employees.
  • The former Allstate Mentoring Program is being reimagined. Harris' team is working with The Allstate Foundation to launch the Allstate Empowerment Network, where employees and leaders will mentor diverse business owners. They're also looking into mentoring diverse firms that are part of Allstate's investments portfolio.
  • Allstate and the Women's Business Enterprise National Council launched an incubator program at Florida A&M University, a historically Black university to give students tools to build sustainable businesses.
  • Allstate requires its non-diverse suppliers to report their diverse supplier spending.

'We've done great. We can do better.'

Looking ahead to next year, Allstate Hosting Services President Dave St. Clair expects Enterprise Solutions to keep momentum on strategies that worked, such as partnering with value-added resellers, and take a closer look at what didn't.

"We've done great. We can do better," he said. "Let's keep trying to improve."

Other business units at Allstate are working toward hitting their year-end goals. As of July, Harris said, some areas were "doing extremely well," while there were others "where we have some opportunity."

The Business Diversity Program has expanded to include India, and Harris' team is working on launching one in Canada, too.

"This is about influencing each of our communities regardless of where we sit," St. Clair said. "We're much bigger that way, and we're much better that way."

A dream beyond spending goals: empowering employees to think differently

Harris has big dreams for the future of the Business Diversity Program.

"Success to me looks like Allstate being held up as a model for what's possible — when you have people working toward a North Star. And that North Star for us is being bold and being the best at business diversity out of any company across any industry," she said.

Harris added. "It's not about rewards or accolades; it's about business value to me and having people call us to say, 'Hey, can you tell me how you did that? We'd really like to learn more so that we can do it, too.'"

Inclusive Diversity & Equity

Diversity, equity and inclusion guide who we are and how we conduct ourselves at Allstate. We know we are stronger because of our differences. We celebrate the diverse perspectives and common purpose that help us achieve results. Everyone deserves to live a life well protected – and everyone has a right to participate and prosper in an equitable society.

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