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Diversified dollars: 7 corporate programs

The federal government aims at spend 23% of its procurement dollars with small businesses. Private-sector enterprises have their own earmarking programs; here's a look at efforts at seven major companies.

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Coca-Cola Co.
Coca-Cola Co.
Coca-Cola's supplier diversity program is more than three decades old, but it took until 2000 for the company to make its first public goal pledge: to spend $800 million with minority- and woman-owned businesses over a five-year period, starting in 2001. In the end, Coke spent $1 billion.

Today, nearly 25% of its suppliers fall under the "diversity" banner, which was expanded this year to include businesses led by gay, lesbian, bisexual or transsexual owners and those run by service-disabled veterans. Coke is also aggressive in pushing its direct contractors to diversify their own supply chains, requiring reports that detail exactly how much specific subcontractors are paid and for what projects.

"We want direct reporting because we want to make sure that they are truly and directly engaged to Coca-Cola," says Johnnie Booker, Coca-Cola's global director of supplier diversity. "For example, we want to hear about the minority company that's transporting the hundred truckloads of sweetener to our plant, not the company who's just cleaning the contractor's buildings."

Where Coke falls short is in earmarking spending specifically for small businesses. "We spend a fair amount on ingredients; there are few if any minority or woman-owned ingredients businesses, and even fewer who can provide us with mass volumes," says Booker.

NEXT: General Mills
Last updated March 14 2008: 2:57 PM ET