AEP’s diversity and inclusion efforts extend beyond our workforce to the customers and communities we serve, including our supplier base. Small and diverse suppliers enable innovation, increase competition, improve savings and enhance the AEP brand. We want our pool of suppliers and business partners to align to the diversity of our communities by making it easier for diverse suppliers to do business with us.
The Supplier Diversity Program focuses on maximizing opportunities for diverse businesses, which include businesses owned by women, minorities (including Hispanic, African American, Asian American, Native American), veterans, LGBTQ, HUBZone and service-disabled veterans. We set a goal to generate a pool of diverse strategic suppliers and business partners that mirror the customers we serve by reaching 13 percent diverse spend by 2023 (includes Tier 1 (prime) and Tier 2 (subcontractors) suppliers. In 2018, we increased our diverse spend by 1.45 percent ($95 million) and achieved our goal of 1 percent enterprisewide.
We continue to improve our Tier 2 supplier program, which allows us to understand the impact our spend is having on diverse suppliers through our direct suppliers. The Tier 2 program demonstrates the importance we place in understanding how our spend trickles down through our supply chain to impact the communities we serve. We are focused on specific outreach with targeted suppliers to create more opportunities that will grow our Tier 2 program.