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Supplier Diversity at Cisco

Denise Coley

Director
Global Supplier Diversity Business Development
Cisco Systems, Inc.

The Cisco Global Supplier Diversity Business Development (GSDBD) Program was established more than 14 years ago to increase inclusion and diversification of our global suppliers. The GSDBD team identifies potential suppliers and facilitates relationships between them and Cisco representatives who can use their products and services.
Cisco works with a number of suppliers, many of whom are small businesses. Diversity among these suppliers is an important aspect of Cisco's supply chain philosophy. We believe diversity is good for our business in a variety of ways:

  • Regional diversity gives us access to worldwide skills and markets, provides business resiliency if disruptions occur in a particular region, and helps reduce transportation costs.
  • Culturally diverse suppliers offering different viewpoints and styles of interacting, help develop and market products that fit the needs of the global community.
  • Social diversity promotes inclusiveness that benefits communities and local economies.

The GSDBD Program provides equal access to diverse owned businesses. Supplier diversity:

  • Enhances Cisco's competitive advantage.
  • Positions Cisco to meet the requirements of our customers.
  • Helps our customers meet government requirements by procuring a proportion of their goods and services from diverse suppliers.

As networking technology empowers people and organizations worldwide, we have discovered many opportunities for sparking transformation and supporting positive change.  Recognition that a key component to sustainable economic advancement for minority communities is access to education prompted Cisco to establish a global program of IT based curricula.

Cisco Networking Academy is an innovative education initiative that delivers ICT skills training to students globally to improve their career and economic opportunities. By helping students prepare for ICT careers and higher education in engineering, computer science, and related fields, Networking Academy can also help students develop their local economies.  The first networking academy in China was founded 1998 at the Fudan University in Shanghai. Since that time, the program has grown to 280 academies.


Cisco is actively looking at providing opportunities through our local supply chain partners to invest in Minority and small business development in China. Cisco is supporting the Western Development movement in China.


For the past four years, Cisco has been recognized for our supplier diversity efforts by DiversityBusiness.com. Cisco ranks as one of the top 50 U.S. companies providing multicultural business opportunities, based on feedback received from more than 650,000 women- and minority-owned businesses.

About the author

As Director of Global Supplier Diversity Business Development at Cisco Systems, Inc., Denise Coley drives the company's supplier diversity initiative by developing relationships between diverse suppliers and Cisco. The mission of the program is to increase customer satisfaction and enhance sourcing through global supplier diversification. The program is results-focused with an underlying tool and process infrastructure. Since Denise started the Cisco Supplier Diversity program nine years ago, the program has gone global successfully in the following countries: Canada, the United Kingdom, China and South Africa. Denise initiated an executive mentor program that allows CEO's of diverse businesses to partner with functional business units executives.

Denise serves as a member of the Board of Directors on the following Councils:  the National Minority Supplier Development Council, the Rocky Mountain Minority Supplier Development Council, and the Conference Board for Supplier Diversity.  Denise also served on the Northern California Supplier Development Council as a member of the Board of Directors for over 10 years.

Cisco and Denise received 13 awards since 2006 ranging from Corporate Advocate of the Year to The First Lady of Supplier Diversity. She mentors diverse suppliers and encourages them to participate in the UCLA Management Development for Entrepreneurs (MDE) Academy. Coley is very active in the community doing volunteer work with senior citizens and various community organizations. She earned her BA in Speech Pathology and Audiology from the George Washington University, her MA in Speech Pathology from the University of the Pacific, and her MBA from the University of Phoenix.