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28 March 2013 | Adam Leach
Public sector buyers must give due consideration to equality in their supply chain to ensure compliance with the public sector Equality Duty (PSED).
Guidance published this week by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) detailed what buyers in the public sector must do to comply with the law, which is currently under review – and expected to be complete by June 2013.
The document advises buyers to explain how they will support equality within the procurement strategy, ensure equality issues are factored into the purchasing process and also meet with potential new contractors from small businesses to identify any potential barriers that might stop them participating.
Karen Jochelson, director of the EHRC’s economy and employment programme, said: “There are a lot of myths about what organisations need to do to comply with the public sector Equality Duty and the amount of time and effort it involves. This guidance will help dispel some of the misconceptions demonstrating what public authorities need to do as a basic minimum to ensure they comply with the law, as well as how they can take a best practice approach to using their procurement processes to improve equality outcomes.”
Under the PSED, which came into force on 5 April 2011, public sector organisations must involve all individuals when carrying out day-to-day work in relation to policies, staff and contractors. The bodies must demonstrate compliance with the policy by publishing their policies and how they are being promoted and followed.
Other advice included in the guidance includes encouraging and giving smaller suppliers the time to form a consortium to bid for larger contracts and broadening the advertising of contracts to include more specialist areas or publications. It also proposed buyers encourage prime contractors to create sub-contracting opportunities.