Supplier Diversity

We believe that doing business with a diverse set of suppliers delivers value to the company and creates a competitive advantage for us by linking the fresh perspectives and nimble thinking of ethnically diverse, women-owned, and small businesses to our internal business needs. We actively seek to expand relationships with these types of suppliers, which we view as an often untapped source of talent.

Since 2005, the U.S. Small Business Administration has recognized us as “outstanding” in our efforts to promote and maintain supplier diversity. In 2016, we spent more than $599.6 million with 600-plus suppliers classified as diverse, woman- and/or LGBTQ-owned businesses, as well as more than $558.4 million with 1,500-plus suppliers classified as small businesses.

Diversity and inclusion are business imperatives at Lilly. We are committed to be the best organization we can be and that will not be possible without fully embracing diversity. We want to attract the best talent, work with the very best suppliers and deeply understand ALL of the patients who need our medicines. The Lilly supplier diversity program is an important component of our comprehensive diversity agenda.

David A. RicksChairman and CEO, Eli Lilly and Company

Become a Small-Diverse Supplier

Lilly requires that a business be certified as a "diverse business." Below are the various certifications Lilly accepts. We prefer to utilize the expertise of third-party certifying organizations, so our staff can focus on maximizing opportunities for diverse businesses. Once certification status is verified and certification(s) is received, provide the information to Lilly’s supplier database through the supplier information form on the Lilly Supplier Portal website. Certification does not guarantee a contract with Lilly.

Business owners will find that the fees for certification are nominal, with some organizations providing the services free of charge. The preferred certifying agency depends upon the type of certification. Lilly tracks the following categories and prefers the certifications defined in the supplier information form:

  • Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) – NMSDC affiliated, City of Indianapolis, State of Indiana

  • Woman Business Enterprise (WBE) – WBENC, NWBOC or equivalent preferred

  • Veteran Owned Business Enterprise (VBE) – self certification Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender (LGBT)

  • National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce Certification (NGLCC) required

  • Small Business (SB) as defined by the SBA – self certification

  • Woman Owned Small Business (WOSB) as defined by the SBA – self certification

  • Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB) as defined by the SBA – SBA 8 (a) certification

  • Veteran Owned Small Business (VOSB) as defined by the SBA – self certification/VA registration

  • Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SD-VOSB) as defined by the SBA – self certification/VA registration

  • Historically Underutilized Business Zone Business (HUB Zone) as defined by the SBA – SBA HUBZone certification

Learn about our Tier 2 Reporting Process

Diversity in Suppliers FAQ

Supplier Diversity Initiatives

Through Supplier Diversity Development, Lilly strives to realize its vision of corporate responsibility, strengthening the communities where we live and work, by positively impacting their economic stability through the growth of small and diverse-owned businesses that anchor these communities.

Internal engagement

Actively engage Lilly procurement and business functions to evaluate small/diverse suppliers and incorporate capable and relevant small/diverse suppliers into the Lilly supply chain

Partnerships with advocacy organizations

Proactively and continuously partner with advocacy organizations to connect with small/diverse suppliers through outreach and mentorship opportunities

Lilly Supplier Day

Lilly routinely hosts Supplier Day events with capable US and Puerto Rico small/diverse suppliers based on the business needs

ISM Supplier Diversity Pharmaceutical Forum (ISM SDPF)

The ISM Supplier Diversity Pharmaceutical Forum (ISM SDPF) is a collaborative group of supplier diversity professionals from more than 20 global or US pharmaceutical companies that dedicate resources to create greater opportunities for small/diverse businesses to serve the pharmaceutical industry. Lilly was instrumental in establishing the forum in the late 1990s. The forum creates a network for its members to openly share small/diverse supplier information, benchmark for best practices and work cooperatively on joint efforts that benefit small/diverse vendors serving the pharmaceutical industry.

Partnership for Supplier Diversity Professionals (PSDP)

The Partnership for Supplier Diversity Professionals (PSDP) is a forum of supplier diversity professionals from major Indiana based corporations/institutions. The forum’s objective is to educate and develop local small/diverse suppliers through benchmarking and best practice sharing.


The Lilly Executive and Protégé Mentor Program is an initiative that launched in April 2016 to help grow and develop Lilly’s relations with small/diverse suppliers. A select number of small/diverse owned companies within the supply chain are selected to participate in the program based on the business needs. Participants learn about industry best practices and Eli Lilly’s methodologies as well as current and future business needs.

Additionally, Lilly provides business education for small/diverse suppliers on an ongoing basis through various mentorship programs offered by advocacy organizations.

Training Minority Clinical Trial Investigators

One important variable in increasing the diversity of clinical trials is increasing the diversity of the physicians who conduct the trials (called “investigators”). Minority physicians are more likely to care for minority and non-English speaking patients.

Unfortunately, the proportion of African American and Hispanic physicians has not kept pace with population growth for these minority groups. Not only does this contribute to inequalities in health and health care overall, but it can also affect enrollment in clinical trials when a lack of diversity among the physicians conducting the trials exists. When there is less minority representation among physicians in certain specialties, it makes it even more difficult for us to increase the diversity of our investigators.

To help address this issue, we partner with The Center for Drug Development and Clinical Trials at Roswell Park Cancer Institute to conduct workshops that train minority physicians to become clinical trial investigators. Our hope is that by increasing minority physicians’ participation, we will be able to increase the diversity of clinical trial participants and improve clinical research.

The workshops, titled “Reducing Cancer Disparities through the Training of a Diverse Workforce,” are offered to oncologists from minority groups. These training programs, the first of their kind in the pharmaceutical industry, aspire to develop a broader base of diverse investigators who understand the principles of good clinical trial design and have the tools to conduct trials that are relevant to underrepresented populations.

Based on the success of the U.S.-based investigator training program, we’re also considering how we can replicate it in emerging markets to involve more local physicians in the studies taking place in those countries. As we look to expand our clinical trials more broadly in these regions, we’re carefully considering important ethical questions related to post-trial care and availability of medications before choosing clinical trial sites.