Supplier diversity was an issue on the lips of many at today's conference, with the merits of South African targets for minority suppliers under the spotlight.
South Africa currently has targets for companies to meet, in terms of the number of minority-owned businesses they use as suppliers. Most buyers I spoke to today agreed that these have been effective in giving minority suppliers more access to contracts in the post-Apartheid era.
However, some purchasers feel that some minority-owned suppliers are exploiting buyers, expecting to be given contracts simply because of their minority status, rather than based on their performance.
Others have complained that the practice of "window dressing", where a large business sets up a minority supplier simply to win business, hasn't been completely eradicated (although some buyers do argue the opposite).
There are clearly economic and social benefits to prescribed contracting, but are they preventing businesses being competitive and earning value for money? Would UK business benefit if companies were forced to give minority suppliers a fixed number of contracts each year?