Feb 19, 2024
The Cigna Group surpasses $1B per-year supplier diversity goal; expands commitment going forward

As a global company with over 70,000 employees, The Cigna Group has significant purchasing power. Thus, we have a responsibility to ensure we use our resources to enact positive change, specifically by improving diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), and prioritizing ethical and resilient business practices. This includes supporting and growing our relationships with diverse, historically underrepresented suppliers.

That’s why we are proud to announce that The Cigna Group has surpassed its goal of $1 billion in annual spending with small and diverse businesses in the United States, about two years ahead of schedule. In 2020, The Cigna Group and its portfolio of companies committed to spending $1 billion annually with diverse suppliers by 2025. We surpassed this goal by roughly $400 million by the end of 2023, for a total of about $1.4 billion.

Now, we strive to expand that commitment to spend even more with diverse suppliers: $1.6 billion annually in 2025.

“Reaching this ambitious goal was an enterprise-wide effort, because we all recognize that investing in supplier diversity helps increase the pool of qualified suppliers, leading to better product quality, more innovation, and cost savings.” Carlos Guzman, managing director, supplier diversity and sustainability at The Cigna Group

“At The Cigna Group, partnering with and supporting small and diverse suppliers, including minority- and women-owned businesses is part of our mission to improve the health and vitality of those we serve,” Guzman said.

Supplier diversity: What it means and why it’s important

When we invest in supplier diversity, it helps increase the pool of possible suppliers and promote healthy competition. According to McKinsey, ethnically and culturally diverse companies outperform their competitors by 36% in terms of profitability. Further, McKinsey found that diverse suppliers are 70% more likely to capture a new market and 84% more likely to innovate products and services than their non-diverse peers.

These investments also impact local communities. Our commitment to supplier diversity is one of the biggest direct contributors to sustained economic progress and prosperity for underrepresented local communities. Sustained employment is one of the primary ways to drive prosperity in a community, Guzman said, and many diverse suppliers are focused on hiring from within their localities.

Strengthening our long-standing commitment

The Cigna Group has worked to support supplier diversity since the 1970s. We are a long-standing corporate member of organizations that help emerging entrepreneurs and business owners, including the National Minority Supplier Development Council, the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, and the National Veteran Business Development Council. We work with these organizations to connect us to diverse suppliers and cultivate alliances to ensure an equal opportunity for all companies that want to do business with us.

To support this work, The Cigna Group launched the Supplier Mentor Protégé Program in 2016. The program, which is in its third cohort, pairs executives from The Cigna Group diverse suppliers for 18 months to help develop and grow their businesses – positioning them to compete for contracting opportunities. The program’s sole focus is to help small and diverse suppliers develop, grow, and become more competitive in the market.

Making a direct impact for diverse companies and local communities

Will Martin, chief operations officer of Cushion Employer Services, a Black-owned family business based in Nashville, Tennessee, and a supplier for The Cigna Group, offered his perspective on the importance of supplier diversity initiatives.  

“This spending goes far beyond the direct business we do with The Cigna Group. We are part of the fabric of our community, and it makes a direct impact in helping to uplift the people who live and work alongside us,” said Martin, whose business provides human resource and benefits program management. When a minority business leader can hire and support people in their community with good salaries, those jobs are inspirational, he said, and they put dollars directly into diverse communities because people do business with their neighbors and spend money where they live.

On behalf of Cushion, Martin participated in the inaugural cohort of the Supplier Mentor Protégé Program. He traveled quarterly from Nashville to Bloomfield, Connecticut, during the program to meet with executives from The Cigna Group, gaining valuable business advice and mentorship.

“Words cannot express the impact that the Supplier Mentor Protégé Program and The Cigna Group’s continued support has had on our business,” Martin said, adding that the program helped inform Cushion’s core strategic planning, allowing it to scale and take on more complex projects and business, resulting in a significant increase in revenue and competitive advantage.

“We couldn’t have gone to the country’s best universities and received this level of detailed knowledge and access – and these relationships still exist to this day,” Martin said. 

Healthy company: A core pillar of our environmental, social, and governance strategy

The supplier diversity efforts of The Cigna Group are part of our commitment to DEI, strong governance, and ethical and resilient business practices – as evidenced in our environmental, social, and governance (ESG) strategy.

Fostering diversity and equity creates space for everyone, while embracing inclusion creates a better world. The Cigna Group is committed to elevating a diverse next generation of leaders through initiatives such as the Supplier Mentor Protégé Program and contracting with small and diverse suppliers.

“While our work is not done, we’re proud of the partnerships we’ve developed and the lasting contributions we’ve made to support sustained economic progress in underserved communities,” Guzman said.

The Cigna Group

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

At The Cigna Group, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is a business priority. We believe a DEI culture must be embraced, embedded, and championed.

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