Breaking Barriers: How Inclusivity is Shaping the Future of Procurement Logistics


In today’s fast-paced global economy, the demand for inclusive practices in procurement and logistics is transforming the industry.

As businesses strive to reflect the diverse communities they serve, inclusivity has become a crucial aspect of modern supply chain management.

Companies enhance operational efficiency and drive innovation and growth by embracing diversity and fostering inclusive environments.

“Inclusivity in procurement and logistics is not optional; it is essential for business success,” says Dennis Hernandez, a highly regarded procurement consultant with expertize in logistics.

“Companies that prioritize diversity are better positioned to understand and meet the needs of their global customer base.”

While conducting Logistics activities at Suzano America, Hernandez is considered superior.

As the Senior Logistics Consultant, he expertly oversees the activities and manages stevedoring, warehousing, transportation, and third-party logistics suppliers.

He has also implemented Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) setups with multiple third-party suppliers, which has enhanced automation and customer service levels.

Hernandez leads the Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion (D&EI) committee at Suzano North America, mapping activities and governance for long-term implementation. His role includes delivering training sessions and resources to enhance staff skills and ensure operational continuity.

Hernandez says the company is progressive in its attitude towards inclusivity, which he is very proud of as a highly regarded company member: “I am pleased to say Suzano is very inclusive. As a gay man with a husband, I feel comfortable and valued for my abilities and contributions rather than judged for my personal life.”

He adds: “This supportive environment is vital for my professional and personal well-being.

“That is how it should be, but sadly in procurement and logistics, it is not always the case.”

As part of Hernandez’s responsibilities managing ‘Plural,’ the name of Suzano’s DE&I initiative, he raises awareness about the challenges various affinity groups face, both within and outside the workplace.

Hernandez says: “We focus on groups such as women, the LGBTQ+ community, people of African descent, and people of different generations and people with disabilities.

“Organizing events and conducting research to provide resources and create awareness within my company is something I am very proud of. It’s fulfilling to see the positive impact of these initiatives on our company culture.”

Traditionally a heterosexual male-dominated industry, the procurement and logistics sector is undergoing a significant shift.

This change is driven by a growing recognition of diverse perspectives’ value to problem-solving and decision-making processes.

Inclusivity in procurement logistics means ensuring that people from different backgrounds, genders, ethnicities, and abilities are represented and have a voice.

One primary way inclusivity manifests in procurement logistics is by diversifying supplier bases.

Companies increasingly seek suppliers and staff owned by the LGBTQ+ community, women, minorities, veterans, and other underrepresented groups.

There are also now concerted efforts to recruit and retain a diverse workforce, recognizing that various perspectives enhance creativity and problem-solving.

This involves hiring people from different backgrounds and creating an inclusive culture where everyone feels valued and empowered to contribute.

“Creating an inclusive workplace culture is crucial for retaining diverse talent,” says Hernandez.

“We focus on providing equal opportunities for growth and development and actively work to eliminate  biases in our hiring and promotion processes.”

He adds: “Manufacturing and logistics have historically been male-dominated fields, particularly in roles such as warehouse operations and manual labor. Nevertheless, I have observed positive changes.

“For example, I now see more women in warehouse management and operational roles. These shifts are encouraging, but work must be done to enhance inclusivity across the entire supply chain sector.

“The transgender stevedore example is dear to me. I am also seeing a shift towards ethnic diversity in the supply chain industry, with an increasing acceptance of individuals from varied ethnic backgrounds. This trend reflects the United States’ principles of providing opportunities and promoting the most competent talents for various roles.”

Hernandez also believes working with diverse suppliers can foster more innovative solutions and create a more resilient supply chain: “These suppliers often provide unique insights and capabilities that help companies remain competitive in a rapidly evolving market. This not only promotes economic equity and introduces fresh ideas and approaches.”

Many leading corporations have also established supplier diversity programs to identify and partner with diverse businesses.

These programs often include mentoring and support to help these suppliers scale their operations and meet the rigorous demands of global supply chains.

“Since joining Suzano North America, I have been actively training and mentoring numerous colleagues,” says Hernandez.

“I have developed a unique training methodology that I call ‘Superpowers,’ which covers a wide range of topics tailored to the needs of individuals who want to learn more about logistics and our various departments.”

Hernandez adds: “These training sessions are customized to be actionable and relevant to each participant, ensuring that they gain practical knowledge and skills.”

“This initiative has significantly contributed to the multiplication of knowledge within the company. I am currently training people from three different departments, and the positive impact of these sessions is evident in their improved performance and confidence.”

Hernandez reveals the training brings him immense satisfaction: “It requires me to take time out of my busy schedule, but the rewards are worth it. Seeing my colleagues grow and succeed is incredibly fulfilling, and it reinforces my belief in the importance of investing in others.”

Technological advancements are crucial in promoting inclusivity in procurement logistics.

Digital tools and platforms make it easier for companies to connect with diverse suppliers and manage their supply chains more effectively.

For example, procurement software can help identify and track spending with diverse suppliers, ensuring that inclusivity goals are met.

“Technology significantly promotes inclusivity,” says Hernandez. “It allows us to collect data, monitor progress, and make informed decisions that advance diversity and inclusion in our supply chains.”

The benefits of inclusivity in procurement logistics are manifold. Companies that prioritize diversity and inclusion often see improved financial performance, enhanced innovation, and a stronger reputation.

Inclusive practices also lead to more resilient supply chains that can better withstand disruptions and adapt to changing market conditions.

“Inclusivity makes strong business sense,” says Hernandez. “Diverse teams are more creative and excel at problem-solving, leading to improved business outcomes. Moreover, companies known for their inclusive practices tend to attract top talent and foster greater customer loyalty.”

Raymond Medley is the North American Pulp Commercial Manager for Suzano America. He has worked with Hernandez for over seven years.

Medley says Hernandez has been the perfect choice to lead the company’s inclusivity initiatives: “Dennis quickly made an impact with his dynamic personality and energy,” he reveals.

“Dennis is very generous, helpful, and supportive. He’s an incredible team player, always willing to step out of his comfort zone to assist others. He’s very straightforward, honest, and a tireless worker. As well as this, Dennis is always available, even late at night or on weekends, to help with any issues.”

Medley adds: “His personality motivates employees, and his expertise ensures reliable operations. His efficient and effective approach will benefit the consumers and businesses he supports.”

Medley says Hernandez is also well-received as a leader, educator, and mentor: “People frequently go to him with questions because he has extensive knowledge and is approachable. “Dennis has a positive influence in the office, and people perk up when he’s around. He’s respected by colleagues and business partners alike.”

Stefan Braren Damato is the Logistics Procurement Manager for Suzano. He says Hernandez, who he first met in 2019, is passionate about diversity issues in the workplace: “Dennis is very helpful and genuinely cares about people. He’s always willing to teach others and share his knowledge. He’s very collaborative and never hesitates to support or assist anyone who asks for help.”

He adds: “ Dennis is always respectful to everyone, regardless of their position. He treats interns, VPs, and CEOs with the same level of respect and humility. He believes in treating all people equally and with respect.”

Matt Janne is Senior Logistics Operations Manager, for Suzano, North America and has worked with Hernandez since February 2023.

He says: “Dennis has always been accepting of me as a person and what makes me unique. He and I are very different people, but we work together well, although we have very different backgrounds, experiences, personal preferences, and ways of communicating with others.”

Janne adds: “Dennis has brought employees together to learn more about each other’s cultures and how to recognize and respect that. But he also includes encouraging an understanding in our interactions with each other.

“Dennis accepts people for who they are and instead of focusing on what makes us different, Dennis seems to focus on what we can collaborate on together to find creative solutions to deliver exceptional value to Suzano and our teams.”

Lauding Hernandez’s knowledge on cultural issues as well as diversity and inclusion Janne reveals: “Dennis has a very unique and creative approach to solving issues that take all of this experience and understanding into account.

“He is very empathetic and understanding of the challenges that people face and he is passionate about solving complex problems that are mutually beneficial to all parties involved.”

As the demand for inclusivity continues to grow, and rightly so, the future of procurement logistics looks promising.

Companies that embrace diversity and inclusion will be better equipped to navigate the complexities of the global market and drive sustainable growth.

Inclusivity is not just a moral imperative; it’s a strategic advantage that can propel businesses to new heights.

Inclusivity is not just a moral imperative; it’s a strategic advantage that can elevate businesses to new heights. “As the industry progresses towards greater inclusivity, I believe my company stands as a beacon of support and acceptance,” says Hernandez. “I am excited to continue addressing these challenges and driving positive change in the logistics and supply chain industry.”

He adds, “By prioritizing inclusivity, companies can develop more innovative, resilient, and efficient supply chains while creating better working environments. This approach benefits the staff, fosters a better workplace, and cultivates a happier environment.”

The shift towards inclusivity in procurement logistics is profoundly reshaping the industry.

As companies recognize the value of diverse perspectives and inclusive practices, they are building stronger, more resilient supply chains that are well-positioned for future success.

Undoubtedly, inclusivity is shaping and redefining the future of procurement logistics.

About Dennis Hernandez

Based in Fort Lauderdale, FL, Dennis Hernandez  leverages his expertise in procurement and logistics to develop procedures that enhance and streamline supply chains for Suzano North America.

He deeply committed to sustainability, having designed a carbon emissions measurement methodology for various transportation modes, now used across company regions.

Additionally, he delivers training sessions to enhance staff skills and ensure operational continuity.

Previously, Hernandez was the Logistics Supervisor for Suzano North America, achieving significant cost savings through strategic negotiations and process optimizations.

He has also expanded international markets and improved marketing strategies at Blichmann Engineering.

Hernandez is a Fulbright scholar and holds an MBA from Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management and a Master’s Degree in Finance and Global Business from the Institute of Business Administration and Economics in El Salvador, where he graduated as valedictorian.

He also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Jose Simeon Cañas University, graduating summa cum laude.

His certifications include Business Strategy from Harvard University and Global Supply Chain Management from the GSCM Institute. Hernandez is also a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CMILT)

He was also Vice-President of finance in Business Analytics club, and Entrepreneurship club and the winner of the Toastmaster’s contest at Purdue.

Proficient in SAP, SQL, Python, and Power BI, Dennis is known for his innovative approach and strategic insights, driving positive change in the logistics and supply chain industry.

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