H-E-B: Moving from Supplier Diversity to Supplier Development


James Harris, Senior Director, Diversity & Inclusion and Supplier Diversity





H-E-B’s forward-thinking method of moving from a supplier diversity mindset to a supplier development mindset helps build supplier relationships that last for long periods of time. Equipping the suppliers with training and education provides the necessary support for the suppliers to adapt to market changes and customer behaviors. An effective supplier development strategy has two essential components: soft skills and hard skills. These skills are learned through H-E-B’s decades of experience working with suppliers and are invaluable to smaller suppliers who don’t have that long experience.

Technical Skills Are the Foundation, Soft Skills Are the House It’s Built On

Hard skills are defined as technical skills required for a job. They are learned abilities acquired and enhanced through education and experience, such as understanding the appropriate distribution models, pricing and merchandising strategy, quality control, and how to vet a potential retail partner, are critical to succeeding as a supplier in our industry.

Strong Soft Skills Uplift, Grow Supplier Relationships

Soft skills are defined as personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people. These skills may include office etiquette, such as conversational skills, appropriate means to contact partners, and understanding the basic parts of leading a team.

Is your organization’s mindset focused on supplier development?


Read more about the content of H-E-B's program and James Harris' insights, download the FMI Supplier Diversity Next/Best Practices Guide or check out all the Supplier Diversity Case Studies.