Procurement’s diverse choices—MAY 2012 PRINT EDITION

Minority-owned suppliers connect with large organizations at CAMSC event

June 20, 2012
by By Carolyn Gruske

Seeking minority-owned suppliers isn’t just progressive—it’s good business practice. Sometimes, it’s a mandatory part of the procurement process. That was the message at the two-day 2012 Diversity Procurement Fair held in Toronto by the Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council (CAMSC). The event provided executives from minority-owned business enterprises (MBEs)—including those owned by visible minorities, Aboriginals and women—an opportunity to network with governments and larger businesses.

KC Mosley, senior manager, enterprise supplier diversity and VP, US procurement and strategic sourcing at BMO Financial Group, said not only is there a policy for the bank to use MBEs, the institution tracks relationships its suppliers have with MBEs. The information is used to help generate KPIs for internal reports.

Mosley tracks suppliers that self-identify as MBEs and watches how successfully they compete for contracts and respond to RFPs. With those that self-identify but aren’t certified by an organization like CAMSC or WEConnect (for women-owned businesses) as minority-owned, she informally mentors them and encourages certification.

The Royal Bank of Canada is starting a mentorship program for minority-owned suppliers. According to Charles Varvarikos, head facilities sourcing, RBC procurement, it’s the second stage in the bank’s efforts to add MBE suppliers. “We feel we’ve made good strides getting diverse suppliers to the table to compete for business. We didn’t even know where the suppliers were a few years ago. Through CAMSC and through working with WEConnect and other organizations, and by networking, we’ve found a lot of diverse suppliers we’d like to do business with, and they’ve gotten to the table to compete for business.” The bank will pair owners or managers of supply companies with bank executives through the Protégé Mentorship Program. Mentors will then advise mentees on how to compete with large organizations.

Consulting company Accenture Inc is starting its second round of mentorships for minority-owned businesses. The company based its program on one run by Accenture in the US, according to Kim Anderson, Accenture’s Canadian procurement lead. Initially, it matched six suppliers to Accenture mentors. Senior representatives of the suppliers attended all-day symposiums at Accenture covering topics like responding to RFPs or creating strategic plans. Mentees met with the Accenture mentor at least once a month.

“Our mentors loved it,” said Anderson. “They loved the opportunity to get deeper into helping build a supplier and taking what they learned in school, bringing it forward and watching their supplier grow.”

Aboriginal procurement plan
Governments (including Manitoba and the federal government) also run procurement programs geared to Aboriginal businesses. Now Ontario is joining their ranks. A two-year pilot project launched in March gives Aboriginal businesses opportunities to work with the province while helping to build their communities.

“The reason we’re doing a pilot is to get the participation of Aboriginal businesses, advance Aboriginal business development and foster partnerships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal businesses,” said John Costa, senior policy advisor in the strategic policy and planning division of the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs.

Aboriginal-owned and controlled businesses, or joint projects in which the Aboriginal-owned business controls the majority of the project and where Aboriginals provide at least one-third of the labour will be eligible. Projects from any ministry can join the program, if it provides “a significant impact to Aboriginal people and communities, a good or service that is culturally specific to Aboriginal people, or a good or service that is related to a program or policy that affects Aboriginal people,” said Costa.