Procurement with a Purpose: Kendra Burris-Austin Shares her Passion for Supplier Diversity

Transforming Communities, Business

02/04/2022

Kendra Burris-Austin headshot.

In honor of Black History Month 2022, 福利视频 highlights diverse employees who are making an impact to advance diversity in the workplace. Kendra Burris-Austin joined 福利视频 in 2020 as Director of Procurement and launched 福利视频鈥檚 Supplier Diversity Program. Learn more about Kendra, her commitment to protecting the earth, thoughts on the significance of Black History Month, and the importance of advancing equity in the communities where we live, work, and serve.

Q. Tell us about your background and your current role at 福利视频?

A. I am from a small town in Oklahoma.听My father was self-employed in construction, and my mother was a nurse.听I have four siblings.听I went to Langston University, a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) and have spent the last 25 years in various forms of procurement.听My last 13 years have been in supplier diversity. My two-year anniversary at 福利视频 will be in March, and I was hired to start the corporate Supplier Diversity Program.听We are infusing supplier diversity into how we buy, how we sell our services, and how we partner with the community in not just ensuring we are investing in our members鈥 health but the wealth of where we provide services.听

We鈥檝e also started the Vendor Sustainability Program.听We are calling it Procurement with a Purpose.听If we think about what we buy and the impact we can have through our vendors, we can influence so much more.听If we are intentional, we can make purchases that can impact business development, the environment, our diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, and increase the wealth of communities wherever we serve. We have those options today, and we can all play a part in making an impact bigger than our purchase.听

Q. What is the most meaningful part of your job?

A. Helping 福利视频 be a better partner 鈥 to our clients, our members, and the environment.听The opportunity to drive this type of change and impact is such a huge honor.

Q. Who influenced you most during your career and why?

A.听I grew up on a farm, so I understand the importance of having viable earth, water, and air for our livestock.听 Sometimes our garden was my family鈥檚 only source of food and so I understand why it so important to protect. My father was self-employed, and I saw firsthand how difficult it is for minority people to succeed when there is no visibility or desire to have an equal playing field. These two influences crafted my need to ensure equity, not just for minorities and underserved people, but for the earth.听I am a tree-hugging procurement professional who found a career that combines my passion with purpose. I find joy every day in what I do and can鈥檛 believe I鈥檝e found a company where I can practice in purpose.

Q. How do you feel about 福利视频's approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion?

A. 福利视频 is not just committed. We are determined to make sure that equity is a part of how we operate.听This was a huge draw to me for this position.听That commitment will translate into the world being a better place.听And having a role in that transformation is thrilling.

Q. What is the importance of allyship to you, and how can individuals be better allies?

A. Understanding that everyone has different perspectives and experiences will allow for empathy.听That empathy affords conversations that can improve how we work together. I think that listening with the purpose to understand can help us all to be better allies.

Q. What are your thoughts on the significance of Black History Month?

A. Highlighting Black history is a fantastic beginning.听When you look at the significance of what has been contributed by Black inventors, engineers, and thought leaders, it is unbelievable that we are still where we are when it comes to equity. But, we have to do more to create space for all to enjoy the reality of parity.听We鈥檝e got a lot of work to do.听And I鈥檓 up for the challenge.