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PMAC 2012: Leverage supplier diversity

Perspectives and advice from panel


June 8, 2012
by Emily Atkins

Moncton, NB: A panel on supplier diversity presented their respective organizations’ approaches to supplier diversity at the end of day one of the 2012 PMAC national conference.

The panel was moderated by Cassandra Dorrington, president of the Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council, Courtney Betty, president, Diversity Business Network, Craig Hall, COO, Aboriginal Human Resources Council and David LePage, team manager, enp – Enterprising Non-Profits.

There was a considerable amount of congruence among the organizations’ perspectives. Courtney Betty of the Diversity Business Network emphasized the importance of diversity efforts having a strong business case behind them. He cited research by RBC that shows the Canadian economy could be $13 billion richer every year through the proper utilization of diverse suppliers.

The key, he said, is to figure out how to get all of our extremely diverse population contributing.

For enterprises contemplating how to effect a supplier diversity program, the steps are simple: First assess the current status if any diversity efforts you have in place, then develop the business case and a strategy. Next develop processes and systems and communicate your objectives to your various communities. Last, be sure to measure your progress.

David LePage from enp talked about “social purchasing”. He pointed out that there is a ripple effect in the marketplace from every purchase made, and the more intentional you are, the more control you have over those effects. If you are seeking to integrate social values into your procurement policies you have to integrate your suppliers.

His recommend path of action is to first define social impact goals, then prioritize and score them, evaluate bids, monitor implementation and finally, report to stakeholders. His organization offers a scorecard template that organizations can adapt for their own use in evaluating suppliers on social criteria.

Craig Hall, from the Aboriginal Human Resources Council, reiterated the importance of the assessment, noting it’s the key starting point for any organization trying to put a supplier diversity program in place. The main questions to ask are: Do you have a list of indigenous suppliers? Does your organization recognize the importance of diversity?

In the Q&A session there was discussion of the need to develop minority suppliers. Hall pointed out that the Human Resources Council is working on supplier training, to prepare business to be “procurement ready”.

Dorrington said in the current Canadian environment, it pays to take the easy wins as we are in the capacity building phase here. “Look at the nuggets where you can make small gains,” she said.

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