Consider disability when outsourcing, purchasers urged

Gurjit Degun
13 November 2013

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Procurement professionals have been urged to take action to ensure they do not discriminate against those with a disability when outsourcing services for their business.

That was the outcome of a roundtable discussion – Managing your risk: is your business disability competent? – among 20 CIPS Fellows held in London last night.

Guest speaker Susan Scott-Parker, founder and chief executive of the Business Disability Forum (BDF), questioned what procurement professionals could do when outsourcing services.

She said: “One of the things I would like to understand is whether or not, and how and if, we should be actively talking to procurement guys because of the impact of how quickly one of your employees gets the adjustment they need in order to keep their job because you’ve outsourced facilities management, IT or health.

“This is the complexity that stops companies from doing what they want to do when they want to treat people properly.”

Scott-Parker used examples of online recruitment sites which after eight pages of text note a link if users are unable to read the text. She also pointed out that when one large bank had a re-fit, it installed 800 computers with a right-hand mouse, not taking into consideration of people who are left-handed.

In another example, she said a company was able to reduce the cost of its chairs from £650 to £400 by having one centralised desk instead of having 5,000 managers ordering chairs as and when, responding to individual employee needs.

Attendees agreed many people want to do the right thing but are unsure how to go about it, and that change has to come from board level. Others said following a set of standards, and including them in tenders could be an option.

Barry Hooper, interim global chief procurement officer at PageGroup said there is no one golden bullet and that some businesses could be excluded as suppliers if there are too many restrictions.

Scott-Parker noted the BDF’s Technology Taskforce, which encourages best practice among organisations and suppliers by developing accessible products and services, and systems and processes, which BDF partners could access for guidance.

Shirley Cooper, director of client development at Lorien Resourcing, said the the BDF has advised it on how to make it easier to employ and do business with disabled people.

"The key lessons we have learned through our work with the BDF is not to be afraid of addressing the topic of disability whether within processes generally or directly with individuals," Cooper told SM after the event. "It is only through addressing these topics openly that we can learn as a business how to best support people and improve accessibility.”

 

 

 

 

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