Why We Need to Develop Schemas in Supplier Diversity: Part 1

What is a Schema & What Does it Have to do with Managing a Supplier Diversity Program?

| By Veronica Cook-Euell, M.A., M.B.A., M.Ed, Supplier Diversity Program Manager at Kent State University

As with most strategies, you will often find a set of objectives that have been put in place to carry out several processes such as planning, organizing, leading, and controlling. We know these to be the four principles of management, which are often present in the leadership of top organizations as well as any initiative that leads to a successful idea.

Schemas as a New Part of Your Strategy

The use of schemas in supplier diversity has not been particularly developed, recognized, or illustrated before now. However, they have the potential to provide a successful strategy to those of us who share in the passion and excitement of the inclusion of diverse suppliers.

A schema is a cognitive framework or concept that helps our brains organize and interpret information. Reliance on established, subconscious schemas can lead to stereotypes, while current and adaptive schemas can make it easier to retain new information that does not conform to our established ideas about the world. As such, schemas must be readjusted and unlearned and others introduced for this framework to be effective. A schema can also be understood in the form of an outline, diagram, or model.

I hope to present you with both a tangible set of schema examples as well as a qualitative understanding of how to conceptualize and share a set of strategies and best practices in a structured manner.

Why do we Need Schemas and Why is it Worth Our Effort to Develop Them?

While our brains are powerful and can process millions of bits of information per second, most of this happens on “auto-pilot” without our conscious recognition. Abundant research shows that we only have conscious control over an extremely tiny portion of our brain’s resources, what can be referred to as our “mental bandwidth”. The more productively we can use our bandwidth, the more we can accomplish.

Effective schemas allow us to move some of the cognitive work that usually drains bandwidth into the brain’s auto-pilot mode, freeing up more of our mental acuity and allowing us to accomplish more.

In the next installments of this piece, we will learn not only why we need to develop schemas, but we’ll also explore how to address demands that arise in our profession. How can schemas help us manage or control those demands and occupational stress that can arise through these challenges?

This is the first of a three-part installment in our blog series on the importance of developing your diverse suppliers.
Read the next installments:

Part 2: Schema Example: A problem occurs between a supplier and an end-user
Part 3: Schema Example: Bringing in new diverse suppliers


About the Author

Veronica Cook-Euell, M.A., M.B.A., M.Ed is the Supplier Diversity Program Manager for Kent State University, where she is responsible for developing strategies to increase minority business representation in securing contracts, driving supplier diversity initiatives, and serving as an advocate and a liaison for diverse suppliers. She can be reached at vcook3@kent.edu.

Learn more about E&I’s dedication to supplier diversity.


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