Beyoncé And Supply Chain Diversity - Procurement News

Procure with Purpose | by Peter Smith on 14/09/2020 04:03 | 0 comments

Are our supply chains tunnel-visioned, or do they support a diverse range of ethnic minorities, women, military veterans, people with disability, or ex-offenders trying to build a new life?


A few months ago, Beyoncé dropped a surprise new single. Hang on, what’s that got to do with Procurement with Purpose (PwP), I hear you say?

Well, apart from the fact the sing is really rather good, Black Parade is linked to her wider initiatives around charitable work (through her BeyGood initiative), black empowerment and consciousness. Revenue from the track is being used to benefit BeyGood’s Black Business Impact Fund – administered by the National Urban League – to support black-owned small businesses in need.

She has also launched a directory of black-owned businesses ranging from art & design, restaurants, beauty products, lifestyle, wellness, bookstores and more. It’s a fairly basic site, and pretty much all the firms listed there appear to be B2C (consumer focused) rather than B2B. But her move may raise more questions about how organisations approach their corporate buying, in particular when it comes to minority-owned businesses that could be used as suppliers. Recent events and the Black Lives Matter movement have made many of us think about racism and bias in our lives, and that applies in the supply chain as much as it does anywhere. So, that takes us back to procurement with purpose.

Diversity (broadly speaking now) in the supply chain is actually one of the most fascinating topics within the whole PwP world. For a start, there are any different types of diversity. Should you buy more from firms owned by people from black and other ethnic groups? What about female-owned businesses? Or those owned by folks with disabilities or health issues – or maybe those firms that employ such people? What about firms that are owned by support military veterans, or ex-offenders trying to build a new life?

Or maybe it’s not the ownership that matters. What about SMEs (smaller firms)?  Some would suggest that those businesses drive successful economies and by supporting them at an early stage, buyers can capture innovation and also promote wider social and economic benefits. Others, particularly in the public sector, look to support local business, on the grounds that this will keep the money flowing in the local economy rather than being sucked up to some distant head office.

All these options mean it can be hard to know where to start. But in many countries, it is clear that minority-owned businesses in particular do have a tough time as they have to overcome all the usual hurdles faced by start-ups anywhere, plus they face the bias (conscious or unconscious) that does exist.

We’re  not going to solve that problem in one article today,  but as well as highlighting that this may develop into a high-profile issue, a few suggestions for now.

·         Firstly, take a look at how easy it is for any new or small firm to become a supplier to you. How can they put themselves forward? Are your supplier qualification and selection processes designed for huge firms, rather than start-ups? Do you put accidental barriers in the way, demanding onerous contract terms, expensive insurance and so on? Too many large firms are virtually impossible to break into, which is not good for the agility and dynamism of their supply base, never mind the difficulty for minority-owned suppliers.

·         Secondly, if you haven’t looked at these issues, seek out organisations that can help you work out an approach. MSDUK has done good work in the UK to promote minority owned businesses, WEConnect International does the same with female owned enterprises, and there are others covering different groups and issues and across different countries.  The good news is that large organisations don’t have to move very much of their spend into supporting these causes to really make a difference.

·         Thirdly, there are some good case studies around. Accenture has been one of the leaders in this area with their supplier inclusion and diversity programme, and there are others who have made strides in this field.

·         And finally, how about Beyoncé for US Vice-President?

This article was originally published by Procurement With Purpose on 20 June 2020 and is republished here with permission.


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Author

Peter Smith

Chief Officer

Peter founded ‘Procurement Excellence’ in 2004, and since then has won significant strategic consulting, interim management and training work in public and private sectors. He was also joint MD (with Jason Busch) and Managing Editor of the Spend Matters UK/Europe website from 2010-18. During that time, Peter personally wrote some 4,000 published articles on these topics as well as around 80 “white papers” and numerous webinar presentations and conference speeches. He is also European Director for Public Spend Forum, which is a relatively new US-based organisation dedicated to improving public procurement worldwide. Peter served as a non-executive director of Remploy, the UK's leading provider of employment services for disabled people, from 2007-11, during a challenging period for that organisation. He was also a Commissioner (non-executive director) for the Legal Services Commission, the body that spends over £2 billion a year in managing the UK’s Legal Aid programme, from 2006-10. Since 2011 he has served as a non-executive for a fast-growing privately-owned business which supplies the public sector. His line management career included periods as Procurement Director for the NatWest Group, the Department of Social Security, the largest UK civil government Department, and the Dun & Bradstreet Corporation Europe, as well as time in several management positions in the Mars Group. Before starting his own blog, Peter wrote extensively for various publications and his first co-authored book, “Buying Professional Services: How to get value for money from consultants and other professional services providers”, was published by the Economist Books in June 2010.


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