Supplier diversity leaders attend Supply Nation’s Connect in Australia

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Supply Nation’s annual flagship event, Connect, is the largest supplier diversity event in Australia.

The three events over two days are considered a must-attend by the Australian supplier diversity community. The Knowledge Forum on the first day is designed to bring together Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander business owners with buyers from government, corporate and not-for-profit organisations to share stories and learnings; hear about global and Australian best practice; and to provide practical strategies that can be implemented post-event. Day two sees Supply Nation host the largest Indigenous Business Tradeshow in Australia – with over 165 businesses showcasing their products and services at this year’s event. The Tradeshow is followed by the Gala Awards Dinner – this year sold out with 860 guests attending to celebrate the announcement of the 2018 Supplier Diversity Awards.

This year, over 2,300 people joined the two-day event held on 22 and 23 May with the common aim of building a vibrant, prosperous and sustainable Indigenous business sector.

Laura Berry, CEO of Supply Nation, welcomed guests to the first day of Connect, at the Knowledge Forum and in doing so launched Supply Nation’s new brandmark and livery with reference to this year’s Connect theme: ‘shaping an inclusive economy’.

“The new brandmark tells the story of our members, partners and Indigenous businesses coming together to shape a more inclusive economy, where all Australians have an equal opportunity to grow a business, support their families and achieve their dreams.” Ms Berry said.

Ms Berry continued “An inclusive economy is a strong economy and each and every one of you here today has a role to play in shaping that Australia.”

The keynote addresses were delivered by the Chair of the National Minority Supplier Development Council, Clifford A. Bailey who encouraged delegates to embrace inclusion not only within their organisation but at every opportunity and Jamila Gordon, who captivated the audience with her personal story of traversing Australia’s business sector as a refugee: from washing dishes to becoming the Group CIO of Qantas, and now running her own start-up supporting other businesses.


The Global Supplier Diversity Story

Global Supplier Diversity Story - session_preview

A highlight of the program for many attendees was the ‘Global Supplier Diversity Story’ session where delegates heard from thought leaders and practitioners from around the globe including Cassandra Dorrington, President of the Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Diversity Council; Fernando Hernandez, Supplier Diversity and Sustainability Director of Microsoft Corporation and Mayank Shah, Founder and CEO of Minority Supplier Development UK Ltd.

The panel shared their experience and insights into inclusive procurement: how to empower decision makers within an organisation to prioritise supplier diversity and the strategies and tactics that have worked to drive change and social inclusion for minority owned businesses in the US, Canada, South Africa and the UK and how these may apply in the Australian context.

Federal Government support

The Federal Government’s support for supplier diversity and Supply Nation was clearly displayed at Connect 2018. At the Indigenous Business Tradeshow, the Federal Government sponsored and staffed the “Australian Government Link” where five departments and agencies were available for Indigenous businesses to discuss how to better engage with and navigate through government procurement processes.

Senator the Honourable Nigel Scullion, Senator for the Northern Territory and Minister for Indigenous Affairs attended, and spent time visiting the exhibitor booths and talking to business owners. He also addressed the Tradeshow and reaffirmed the Federal Government’s commitment to growing the Indigenous business sector.

At the Gala Awards Dinner, the 860 guest were thrilled by a live cross from Canberra where the Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull congratulated Supply Nation, the awards finalists and winners, and the whole sector for the achievements of the past few years. He mentioned the recent government announcement that since the launch of the Indigenous Procurement Policy in July 2015, over AUD$1 billion has been spent with Indigenous businesses.


2018 Supplier Diversity Awards

Laura Berry, CEO Supply Nation, opening the Gala Awards Dinner_previewOn the final night of Connect, the prestigious Supplier Diversity Awards were announced. This year over 860 guests attended the event and celebrated as the winners were revealed. From the most successful organisations to the individuals who are creating change through their own advocacy or business acumen, the Supplier Diversity Awards are the highest recognition of achievement in Australian supplier diversity.

Ten awards were presented, including Corporate Member of the Year, Government Member of the Year, Certified Supplier of the Year, Registered Supplier of the Year, Supplier Diversity Advocate of the Year, Supplier Diversity Partnership of the Year, Procurement Professional of the Year, Indigenous Businesswoman of the Year, Young Indigenous Entrepreneur of the Year and the most prestigious Outstanding Impact of the Year award. Finalists and winners are available here.

Connect has once again brought together the entire supplier diversity community from Australia and the globe, with record numbers attending Next year is Supply Nation’s 10th birthday and Connect 2019 will be a real celebration.

For further information about Supply Nation’s annual Connect conference, visit



Unlocking Innovation Through Diversity: Nominations Open For The MSDUK Innovation Challenge

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Nominations have opened for the MSDUK Innovation Challenge 2018, a pitching competition that aims to provide opportunities for ethnic minority entrepreneurs in the UK with an innovative idea, product or technology. The Innovation Challenge which is open to individual entrepreneurs and businesses, is sponsored by Cummins and will take place on 26th September 2018 at the Vox Conference Centre in Birmingham, during the MSDUK Conference & Awards.

On offer are three scholarships to the weeklong residential Executive Business Programme at the Ivy League’s Tuck School of Business in Dartmouth, USA, worth $10,000 each.

The purpose of this year’s Innovation Challenge is to ‘Unlock Innovation Through Diversity’ by highlighting the ground-breaking ideas, business models and products developed by ethnic minority entrepreneurs and providing a platform for them to obtain investment, access to market and expert support.

The ethos behind the Innovation Challenge is to eradicate barriers for aspiring entrepreneurs to spurn new enterprises and provide support for existing ones. The goal is to make innovation and entrepreneurship accessible to all and showcase diversity as key part to achieving this result. In an era where talks around diversity & inclusion are at its zenith, and yet data shows that much more is to be done, this country-wide competition is a unique program actively engaging the diversity agenda & supporting minority-led businesses.

Mayank Shah Founder & CEO of MSDUK commented: “Britain is home to some exceptional ethnic minority entrepreneurs, professionals and individuals that are at the forefront of introducing breakthrough technologies, innovative ideas and new products. However, very little attention is given to diversity within the UK start up community and the difficulties ethnic minority entrepreneurs face in bringing innovative ideas and products to the market. At MSDUK we aim to change that by supporting innovative ethnic minority entrepreneurs and businesses.”

This event will see a panel of judges selecting a winner from the categories below:

*Disruptive Businesses – New Business Models & Solutions Emerging Tech: AI, IoT, 3D Printing, Blockchain, Robotics and more.
*Tech for Good – Healthcare, Education, Future Workforce, Financial Services, Security, Citizen Identity and more.
*Sustainable Futures – Smart Cities, Built Environment, Energy, Renewables, Transport.
*Innovation Wildcard – Creative Industries, Leisure, Entertainment, an innovative idea don’t need to fit a box or category

To apply for the 2018 Innovation Challenge, click here

Closing date for MSDUK Innovation Challenge applications is 20th June 2018.

Click here for more information on the Innovation Challenge

Click here for further information on exhibiting or attending the MSDUK 2018 Conference & Awards

For more information, please contact Ervin Picari:

Supplier Diversity Leaders Shine at the 12th CAMSC Business Achievement Awards

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TORONTO, September 29, 2016 – BMO Financial Group was recognized as the Corporation of the Year at the 12th annual Business Achievement Awards hosted by the Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council (CAMSC).  Annually, this awards ceremony celebrates diverse suppliers and the corporations they work with, who are leading the way in supplier diversity.  The awards were presented, including Supplier of the Year, Small Business of the Year, and Procurement Business Advocate of the Year.

“While we celebrate the achievements of our nominees and winners, we know that every one of our certified members are leaders in supplier diversity,” explained Cassandra Dorrington, President and CEO, CAMSC.  “Their effort to drive inclusive procurement opportunities is the reason why over $2 billion has been spent by our corporate members on these suppliers. As this momentum grows, we are committed to supporting each of these leaders every step of the way.”


The keynote this year was David Chartrand, the longest serving President of the Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF).  For over two decades, he has advanced the cause of the Métis Nation provincially and nationally, while improving opportunities for all Manitobans.  Under his leadership, the MMF has experienced tremendous growth in self-government capacity, programs and services for the Métis Nation and the Manitoba Métis Community.

List of Awards Winners:

  • Supplier of the Year – mobileLIVE
  • Small Business of the Year – Stratus Plastics International
  • CATA Technology Innovation Award – Triplewell Products Ltd.
  • Corporation of the Year – BMO Financial Group
  • Tier 1 Champion of Supplier Diversity – Sodexo Canada
  • Procurement Business Advocate of Year – Lori Benson, EY
  • Collaboration Award – RBC


Supplier of the Year – mobileLIVE

Awarded to an Aboriginal or Minority-owned business based on growth and development, export sales growth, and major accomplishments during the previous year, the winner is mobileLIVE, a one-stop shop for digital transformation of businesses. Their customized approach of user driven and omni channel experience creation coupled with specialized focus on mobile, cloud, web applications, and automation tools ensure accelerated delivery with enhanced customer experience. They serve some of Canada’s most iconic enterprises, smartphone manufacturers, global network vendors, software houses, and a major hospital. As a Canadian-owned-and-operated company, mobileLIVE has gathered tremendous momentum in a short span of five years with a year-over-year revenue growth of 400% along-with 100% customer retention. Today mobileLIVE has more than 250 team members, serving customers across Canada. mobileLIVE was awarded “Ontario Business Achievement Award” by Ontario Chambers of Commerce in 2015 and “Momentum Company of the Year” by TechConnex Technology Leadership Award for their forward thinking, innovation and service excellence.

CATA Technology Innovation Award – Triplewell Products Ltd.

Awarded to an Aboriginal or Minority-owned business for the most innovative technology-based product or service, the winner is Triplewell Products Ltd. The company is an automotive interior manufacturer of trims, and component parts and producer of apparel and technical outerwear. An end-to-end solution provider, services include product design, prototyping and to plastics extrusion, sub-assembly and welding. Technological capabilities include: conceptualization, design, CNC machining, fabrication, machine assembly, and PLC programming. They have created an innovative foam-injection carousal machine capable of injecting different chemical systems via touch-screen selection and self-locking precision aluminum molds used in the foam injection process of auto head and arm rests. This machine enables standardized settings to ensure product quality consistency. It is a fully scalable machine – all future models can be manufactured using the backbone. Head rest molds developed for each new model program can be designed to encompass many different shapes and contours of head and arm rests. They are one of their clients’ key OEMs of choice.

Procurement Business Advocate of the Year – Lori Benson, EY

Presented to an individual who strongly promotes supplier diversity through outreach efforts/activities and is respected by their peers for advocating supplier diversity in Canada. Lori Benson is dedicated to broadening her organization’s supplier diversity (SD) efforts across North America. Lori networks and develops relationships with diverse suppliers to constantly improve, segment and enhance EY’s SD program. She builds internal relationships across various business units and is able to fully utilize the support of the D&I teams, talent, marketing and executive leadership to drive the value of SD internally and externally. In addition to her work with CAMSC, Lori has advocated for EY to become founding members of WeConnect Canada and CGLCC (Canadian Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce). Lori has led a multitude of training sessions for suppliers on how to respond to RFPs, make cold calls and perfect their elevator speech. A regular corporate table host for marketplace meetings, Lori is an ardent promoter of EY’s SD program to expand opportunities for diverse suppliers.

Tier 1 Champion of Supplier Diversity – Sodexo Canada

This award is presented to a business-to-business Tier 1 corporation that actively supports its client’s economic inclusion goals by including certified Aboriginal and minority suppliers in their procurement opportunities.  The winner, Sodexo is a global food service and facilities management company. Its services include foodservices, reception, maintenance and facilities and equipment management. Sodexo has educated current vendors on Tier 1 and Tier 2 spends. Their procurement department has established goals to include diverse suppliers and work regularly with organizations to identify diverse vendors to participate in their RFI/RFPs. Sodexo regularly identifies, mentors and coaches diverse vendors and provides them opportunities to grow. Sodexo has mentored CAMSC suppliers towards becoming Sodexo partners. There has been an equal focus on corporates as well, with introductions to certifying bodies and Supplier Diversity education/mentoring and exposure. Their Supply Chain Inclusion Program leverages best practices from Sodexo operations around the world to develop sustainable relationships with suppliers (SMEs, Aboriginal, women-owned, and minority-owned). Most recently, Sodexo has pledged to spend $1 billion (US) with 5,000 small and medium-sized enterprises.

Collaboration Award – RBC

This award is presented to a company that works collaboratively with CAMSC members, suppliers or other organizations to strengthen Aboriginal and minority business growth and facilitate supplier diversity.  The winner, RBC’s has a value of “Diversity and Inclusion” which is evident in the leadership role it has taken in engaging corporations, government and stakeholders to implement inclusive procurement processes. RBC’s goal is to achieve a truly inclusive supply chain that provides procurement opportunities to qualified suppliers. Their flagship Supplier Diversity Mentorship program launched in 2012 supporting supplier diversity activities. They participate in supplier diversity events and work with other Canadian corporations to cultivate relationships. As a founding member of CAMSC, RBC works closely with stakeholder organizations to promote supplier diversity and support certified suppliers. RBC articulates the benefits and value of utilizing certified suppliers and encourages their Tier 1 suppliers to do the same. The value of Collaboration is also demonstrated as internal teams work together to share insights on building a holistic approach of diversity and their associated impact. This collaboration and partnership approach has led not only to aligned relationships with diverse organizations but also to increased involvement from a number of RBC’s Tier 1 suppliers.

Small Business of the Year – Stratus Plastics International

Awarded to an Aboriginal or Minority-owned business with 50 or fewer employees, based on business growth and development, export sales growth, and major accomplishments during the previous year. The winner, Stratus Plastics International is dedicated to providing high quality injection molded products. This company continues to grow and in the past three years, has achieved ongoing financial and operational growth. A significant investment was made in 2015 on capital equipment. This year, Stratus purchased a 2750 injection moulding press, added four indoor silos and expanded their current facility to 8,400 square feet. Additional commitment for growth includes purchases of two robots, and five machines to help increase capacity for current customers. The addition of a 2750 HPM is an investment towards Stratus’ minority partnership with Flex-N-Gate, which helps with production and overflow. Since 2006, Stratus Plastics has morphed a unique relationship with Flex-N-Gate while maintaining a substantial footprint in the Canadian region. The success with Flex-N-Gate was instrumental in Stratus attaining work from Magna and AP Plasman. Stratus is a company that has worked with many Tier 1 and non-automotive companies to provide excellent services and products.

Corporation of the Year – BMO Financial Group

This award is presented to an organization that actively includes certified Aboriginal and minority suppliers in procurement opportunities and continues to develop and promote these suppliers internally and externally.

The winner, BMO Financial Group goes beyond their comfort zone to draw from the wide range of experiences of their colleagues, customers and suppliers. BMO is a pioneer and leader in diversity. They demonstrate progressive commitment to improving the diversity of their workforce and suppliers. Supplier Diversity has become a key component of the bank’s overall diversity strategy. Using diverse suppliers is an integral part of BMO’s commitment to meeting the needs of its customers and the communities it serves. Internally, BMO’s Supplier Diversity Team works closely with colleagues to foster an inclusive procurement process. Externally, BMO’s Supplier Diversity Program has a focus on expanding the program to include more Tier II suppliers.  BMO is looking to formalize its commitment to supplier diversity by introducing a supplier diversity commitment statement this year.  BMO’s participation in CAMSC’s business value case studies is aimed to engage and inspire Canadian organizations to develop and implement inclusive procurement programs is authentication of BMO’s commitment to advancing supplier diversity in Canada.

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MSDUK launches MSD – Europe in an effort to expand opportunity for minority businesses across the continent

The launch of MSD – Europe during the MSDUK 2016 Conference provided one of the many highlights of the three day Conference held in London this September. However, its importance is even greater when taking into consideration what this project aims to achieve and the challenges it has to overcome to become a success. MSD – Europe has often been discussed by various stakeholders that are part of the MSDUK network, the leading non-profit membership organisation driving inclusive procurement in the UK, and has been has been a lifelong ambition of MSDUK Founder and CEO Mayank Shah: ‘Since the inception of MSDUK I have always looked towards Europe with the hope of extending more opportunities to those minority/migrant businesses operating in various European countries and advocating the benefits of inclusive procurement supply chains’.

As Mayank points out, the challenge for expanding into Europe has always been in identifying the right country to start the process. This is because different EU countries compared to the UK have different definitions on ethnicity, and in some, ethnic minorities are not recognised as existing groups. A clear example of this is France which under its egalitarian beliefs treats all citizens the same, refusing to group them into ethnic categories.

For MSD – Europe to become successful in its support of minority businesses it was important that it operated in a country that has embraced multiculturalism and recognises the existence and contribution of its ethnic minority/migrant population and the obvious place to start was Germany. Not only is Germany Europe’s economic powerhouse but it also has a large migrant population that is still growing as a result of the latest wave of immigrants coming into Germany over the last 18 months. Furthermore the country has had a substantial increase in migrant enterprises from 200,000 in the 1990s to 760,000 in 2013. In 2015, of the total number of new businesses, 20% were created by migrants. We believe that MSD – Europe will drive the way for economic and social integration of migrant communities in the country.

MSD – Europe will replicate the work done by MSDUK in Britain in supporting the development of ethnic minority/migrant businesses and entrepreneurs by opening new opportunities and connecting them to large purchasing organisations thus promoting supply chain inclusiveness and diversity. Mayank Shah, CEO of MSDUK says that ‘Germany is only the starting point and our aim is to expand into other European countries within a number of years. We have already started to look towards Ireland and the Nordic countries’.

As population demographics change, EU countries will become more ethnically diverse in the future and today’s majority ethnic groups will no longer comprise a numerical superiority thus is important that ethnic minorities have a stake in the societies they settle. This can be achieved through economic empowerment by providing opportunities for minority/ migrant businesses across the continent and this is what MSD – Europe aims to achieve.

Announcing the MSDUK 2016 Award Winners

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Over 300 guests and hundreds of purchasing organisations from across the world came together to represent and promote the ethnic minority business community at the MSDUK 2016 Awards.

Overlooking the iconic Tower Bridge, the gala ceremony took place at the Grange Tower Bridge with a global audience who reflected how societies, countries and economies around the world are built by people from different backgrounds, cultures and origins working together.

The MSDUK awards honoured and recognised individuals who have shown great passion and belief in ethnic minority businesses by becoming true partners in their success and growth. The awards also celebrated the best of British ethnic minority entrepreneurs who have embraced innovation, achieved consistent growth and are doing this with a responsibility towards society and the environment.

The MSDUK Awards were divided into 5 categories and the winners were

Corporation of the Year sponsored by Gibbs S3


Inclusive Procurement sponsored by IBM 

Skanska UK PLC

Scale up Business sponsored by EY

ClinTec International

Innovation sponsored by Capital One

Bri-Tek Technologies Ltd

Entrepreneur of the Year

Shahid Sheikh of Clifton Packaging Group

We would like to congratulate all our winners!

Seminar at CAMSC Diversity Procurement Fair looks at trends and opportunities in IT

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Note to suppliers in the IT field: to help you succeed, find out what your customers’ pain points are, then offer them specific solutions. And if you deliver on a particular job, the message gets passed around not only within the organization but also to potential clients outside of the organization as well.

That was some of the advice during an educational panel session at the Diversity Procurement Fair 2016, hosted by the Canadian Aboriginal & Minority Supplier Council, held April 12-13 in Toronto. The event provides networking, learning and business building opportunities for global corporations and Aboriginal and minority owned businesses.

The session, entitled Trends & Opportunities in IT, featured Kuriba Sankar, director of IT consulting and professional services, RBC Financial Group and Jahan Ali, CEO of mobileLIVE. Forood Malekzadeh, senior partner and CEO of VTRAC Consulting, moderated the session.

At the conversation’s beginning, Ali discussed the trends towards digitization, or the application of technology across functions within an organization. He noted three drivers of this trend: a search for revenue or new revenue streams; as a way to increase productivity and to make business operations more efficient; and as a way to improve the end-user experience.

There are four areas that organizations are investing in: the Internet of Things; Big Data; artificial intelligence; and omni-channel delivery. These trends are connected, Ali noted, and all relate to improving the customer experience. The workforce is therefore changing and organizations are looking to hire millennials due to the different mindset they bring to the job.

Sankar also saw shifts—brought by technology—in the way businesses operate. Just as the video stores of past decades have given way to online streaming services, other fields like banking face shifts, he noted. The key, he said, was to move into where the transformation lies while also keeping an eye on the customer and where their needs are.

Advice to suppliers

Be specific regarding what you can do for organizations, advised Sankar. He suggested that suppliers not pitch too many services at once but to continue to follow up with potential clients. Dealing with a large enterprise requires a long-term approach, he said. Rather than trying to sell something immediately, build relationships that may lead to doing business together in the future.

“Organizations will take the time to make the decisions,” he said. “You may be able to pitch yourself today but the demand might come in a year or two. You have to have patience.”

The size of the business or operation is irrelevant when searching for new suppliers, Sankar said. In some instances, he has brought in one-person operations for specific partnerships. If the organization provides innovation and the pitch is interesting, a partnership may be possible.

A supplier should offer continuous improvement in order to keep the partnership going, Sankar said. There is competition everywhere, he noted, and suppliers must ask themselves constantly how they can improve a client’s experience. “If we’re able to find another supplier who is investing more than you, it’s difficult for you,” he said. “If you’re proactive in finding solutions you’ll be a superstar.”

Doing exceptional work and delivering results will earn a supplier a great reputation within an organization, Sankar noted. As well, that reputation will spread to other companies and organizations. Within banking IT, for instance, while buyers may be competitors, they still talk and a referral to another interested buyer may be a phone call away, he said. “If you’ve done a good job in one bank it’s likely it will spread to others,” he told the audience. “If you do a good job for a VP in one bank, go pitch the same to other VPs in other banks.”

“Deliver, but exceed expectations.  If you get a thank you without asking then you’ve done your job.”— Jahan Ali

Ali agreed on many of the points offered by Sankar. He also recommended looking at what an organization’s pain points are and presenting specific ways to solve those challenges. It can also pay for a supplier to start with small projects to show how they can provide value, then build upon those successes. Ali also agreed that doing a great job is an excellent way to create future business. “Deliver, but exceed expectations,” he counseled. Companies aren’t small or big. It’s about being faster and better. Don’t think about your company as small, it’s all in your mind. It’s about what value you’re delivering.”

To conclude, business is changing because of the changes in technology. From the comments of the panel participants, organizations and suppliers alike would do well to adjust to the new normal that these advances bring.

-Published in Purchasing B2B Magazine, June 2016

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Indigenous Procurement Policy to drive corporate innovation

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The Indigenous Procurement Policy (IPP) launched in July, is beginning to warm up. Government buyers are figuring out how they will implement the policy and are building plans to ensure they meet their targets. However, outside of government, in the private sector, the policy is still relatively poorly understood—which may become an issue for the government if it is to meet its targets.

The IPP has been designed to drive public and private sector purchasing from Indigenous businesses, in order to grow those businesses and, in turn, grow Indigenous employment. Despite this, there are few in the private sector that know about the policy and even fewer that realise it may affect their company directly.

‘For private sector buyers, the understanding of the IPP is that it is for government and government alone,’ said Peter Critchley, Supply Chain Analyst at Transfield Services. ‘There is little appreciation that it might affect their contracts with government.’

Any organisation that contracts directly to government or contracts with companies that are highly exposed to contracts with the Federal Government, are affected by the IPP. There are few, if any, B2B companies not in this bucket.

As covered in last quarter’s Supplier Diversity How, the IPP is broken into three main categories.

  1. Target: by 2020 3 per cent of government contracts will be awarded to Indigenous businesses
  2. Mandatory set asides: For any contract between $80 000 and $200 000 or any contract awarded in a remote area, if there is an Indigenous business that can fulfil that contract and still provide value for money, the contract must be awarded to that business.
  3. Minimum requirements: For any new contract in certain industries at or above $7.5M, the winner of the contract must demonstrate either deliver 4% employment and/or a mix of 4% procurement. Alternatively they can choose to spread the target across their whole business, not just the individual contract, in which case the requirement drops to 3%.

Part three of the policy, is explicitly designed to drive Indigenous procurement down the supply chain and into the private sector. Any organisation hoping to win large contracts in building, construction, maintenance, transportation, storage, education, training, industrial cleaning, travel and many more will have to meet ambitious procurement and/or employment targets that are above the current Australian average.

All tenderers for applicable contracts of $7.5M or more already have to respond to the requirements of this element of the policy, however the regulations won’t be enforced until next year. If the policy applied to a tender your organisation was competing on, you would have to submit a detailed Indigenous Participation Plan that outlines how your organisation will meet the targets. An organisation’s compliance to the Indigenous Participation Plan will be monitored by the government contract manger.

Jason Eades, CEO of PwC Indigenous Consulting, has seen evidence that departments are looking to get wins under their belt before reporting on this starts in earnest next year.

‘In terms of the minimum requirements element of the IPP, despite this being a transition year, we are seeing initial signs that government departments are moving early,’ said Mr Eades, ‘They are very focused on building their programs to meet this element of the policy – they want to demonstrate that they can and that they can get there early.’

In other words, companies looking to win large government contracts should be ready for the IPP to affect their business—and should not be surprised if it comes in to play this year. Companies that aren’t ready may be at risk of losing large government contracts or damaging their relationships with government buyers.

Second Tier Reporting

Another way government portfolios will meet their targets is by reporting on second tier spend with Indigenous businesses. If a department under a portfolio, such as the Department of Human Services (DHS), has a large nationwide contract with a large office stationary provider, such as Staples or OfficeMax, and it purchases paper from an Indigenous business through that tier one supplier, DHS can report on that second tier spend with that Indigenous business.

For large departments, such as the Department of Defence or the Attorney General’s Department, second tiering will have to be core to their strategy to achieve their targets. Defence signs an average of 14 005 contracts each year, which means they will have to sign 420 contracts with Indigenous businesses by 2020. These targets will dramatically increase Defence’s spend with small and medium business, let alone with Indigenous business and will require a strong second tier strategy in order to meet the targets.

Defence and other departments tier one contractors will likely soon be called upon to start reporting their spend with Indigenous business. New contracts signed will start to have stipulations on engagement with Indigenous business in tier one supply chains. Tier one suppliers will have to meet those Indigenous business engagement stipulations and reporting guidelines, otherwise they will be at risk of not winning those government contracts.

Lessons Learned in the West

On face value, it may seem like the IPP places a heavy burden on the private sector and may impact the profitability of contracting to government. However, over the last twenty years in West Australia the mining industry has cultivated a culture of Indigenous business engagement down the supply chain. According to Mr Eades, the government and the private sector can look to this experience for guidance and advice on reaching the targets.

‘The mining giants have been here before. They know how to issue contracts that drive engagement with Indigenous business deep down their supply chains. They know how to establish a reporting system that captures the impact of their procurement spend.’ Said Mr Eades.

The more recent West Australian experience, of slowing investment in new projects and a decrease in new investment, also contains valuable lessons.

‘The mining boom drove a huge growth in small Aboriginal businesses and as that industry has moved out of the growth phase, there are a whole lot of Indigenous businesses going to the wall.’ Said Mr Eades, ‘If this policy is mismanaged or is suddenly changed, it has the potential to do the same type of damage, but on a larger scale. We have to ensure the private sector, government and Indigenous businesses are collaborating to build a framework that grows sustainable Indigenous businesses.’

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