MBA Fellow Advances Williams-Sonoma's Supplier Diversity

Elizabeth John Headshot
During the summer of 2020, Elizabeth John (MBA '21) interned as an NYU Stern MBA Sustainability Fellow at Williams-Sonoma. Read on to learn more about her time there:

Name: Elizabeth John
Year: 2021
Hometown: Larchmont, NY
Specialization: Sustainable Business and Innovation

Briefly describe your internship experience (org/company, department, your focus projects/deliverables, how you came to find this role).
I spent the summer in the Sustainability department of Williams-Sonoma, Inc. (WSI). My main project was focused on supplier diversity. To start, I examined WSI’s supply chain, learning how they onboard vendors and track vendor data across their 8 brands. This included creating and implementing a baseline survey for West Elm LOCAL vendors to inform their commitments to the 15% Pledge. I then conducted competitor research to see how retailers and other corporations approached supplier diversity. This included numerous conversations with non-profit organizations, such as the National Minority Supplier Development Council, WeConnect International, Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, NEST and Bridgeway Capital.  Finally, I compiled my recommendations and presented them to a cross-functional group of WSI’s staff, including the EVPs of Sourcing and Legal, and the Directors of Procurement, Sustainability and Global Operations. I am excited to be continuing my work part-time at WSI in the fall semester.

How did this experience shape the rest of your time at Stern? How did it shape your future career path?
This experience was a wonderful introduction to corporate sustainability. My previous background is in education and nonprofit management, so it was very helpful for me to experience a corporate environment, while working towards ambitious sustainability goals within a robust system. I was really impressed by the thoughtfulness of WSI’s approach, and how much progress they have been able to make in areas like sustainable materials, worker wellbeing, and supporting artisans. Supplier diversity efforts represent a huge opportunity for companies like WSI, as consumers and employees are demanding that retailers’ products are more representative of their communities. I believe I am much better positioned to work in corporate sustainability, supplier diversity, or other company-led diversity, equity and inclusion efforts as a result of my experience.