10 December 2008 | Jake Kanter
Public sector buyers should engage with organisations that promote equality issues to ensure procurement processes are fair and open.
An OGC guidance paper launched today advised public sector purchasers to consult equality 'champions', such as trade unions, industry representatives and the Equality and Human Rights Commission. These groups can share research and other useful material to help buyers assess concerns about equality issues early in the procurement process.
Among the concerns that purchasers need to address are how easily small and minority suppliers can access contracts, and whether vendors have facilities for disabled employees.
Measures of equality could be contractual requirements, it suggested, such as ensuring women working on a construction a site are provided with special protective clothing.
Buyers could also provide training or run workshops with suppliers to promote equality.
Making Equality Count is the third guide in a series announced by Angela Eagle, exchequer secretary to the Treasury. The first two, published in the summer, aimed to help buyers tackle social and environmental responsibilities (News, 19 June, and web news, 9 July).
Eagle said it was vital public purchasing worked to promote a fairer, more inclusive society.
Last week's Queen's Speech confirmed the Single Equality Bill, which aims to overhaul public purchasing in a bid to improve pay transparency and expose gender pay gaps (Web news, 26 June).