Procter & Gamble
Associate Director of Supplier Diversity, Sustainability, & Innovation
Andy Butler is a panelist on When Diversity & Inclusion and Supplier Diversity Intersect on Thursday, May 3, 2018 from 2:30 - 3:15 p.m.
Andy Butler is a change-maker in the world of supplier diversity. As associate director of supplier diversity, sustainability, and innovation with Procter & Gamble, he’s visited 18 countries in the last 18 months, giving him a deep perspective on how the company is positively impacting communities worldwide.
He’s also responsible for Procter & Gamble’s early sponsorship of the Derby Diversity Business Summit, a move that helped others in the field recognize value in this inaugural event and the unique opportunity it represents.
“It has created a level of enthusiasm and motivation within the supplier diversity community that he has been willing to think outside the box as far as ways to bring the diversity community together to help develop diverse businesses,” said Tawana Bain, founder and chair of the summit.
Butler majored in economics at Carnegie Mellon, but while his friends became investment bankers and consultants, he wanted to work for a company that actually made something.
As a young purchaser, one supplier of plastic detergent caps, stood out to him. He thought, “They’re more agile. They’re more responsive. They’re more innovative. They’re more competitive.” He learned that the company is owned by 18,000 Inuit people. “Sealaska exists to pay dividends to their shareholders to supplement their traditional occupations, like hunting, fishing, and artistry”
While in Juneau on a purchasing trip, Butler was able to participate in a biennial festival of traditional Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian cultures. “It is not an exaggeration to say that this experience completely changed my life personally and professionally,” he said.
“What it helped me understand is that our ability as a company to impact the world was completely amplified through this lens of supplier diversity. It helped me understand that diverse suppliers help create better business value because of who they are.”
Five years later, he got the chance to put this knowledge into action when he was named corporate supplier diversity manager. His boss, Stew Atkinson, Chief Purchasing Officer, tasked him at age 29 with changing the way P&G did supplier diversity. “How do we take this to the next level?” Atkinson asked.
It was no small task, but he had a great platform with P&G, including their membership at the Billion Dollar Roundtable. “We took a step back and made a really simple statement. For us, at P&G, supplier diversity is about creating transformational value in our business and in our community,” which he said, “led us down a very different strategic path than we had in the past.”
Expanding the definition of diversity to include not only ethnic minorities and women, but also disabled communities, veterans, and suppliers who identify as LGBTQ was a big part of that change.
When Butler speaks at corporations worldwide, he always asks, “Is your supplier diversity a strategy or a metric? If you believe, like we do at P&G that a diverse supply network will out-think, out-perform a non-diverse supply network... If you believe that when your supply chain reflects the same diversity as your customers and your employees that your business will grow and your community will thrive, it’s not about the spend. The spend will come.”
“Diversity and inclusion need to come together as an industry for us to collectively move to the next level,” he said. “That’s why I think the summit is so important. It’s leveraging an incredibly iconic, global event to bring light to the fact that supplier diversity is only going to become more important, but we have to happen to supplier diversity. We can’t let it happen to us.”