Build diversity into supplier requirements

13 September 2018

Procurement professionals should consider building diversity into supplier requirements, according to a panel of experts. 

Speaking at a CIPS and executive search agency Korn Ferry event on inclusive leadership, Oliver Cock, MD of Compass’ buying organisation Foodbuy, said while there was a “slight danger” of diversity becoming a “box ticking” exercise for suppliers, making it a requirement was worth considering.

“When a client asks us to do something, we respond,” he said of his own business, making the point that procurement requirements can make a big difference to behaviours across organisations.

“If you do it in procurement and make it serious, it will have an impact,” he added.

Paula Gildert, VP head research and development procurement at pharmaceutical firm Takeda, said diversity in the supply base was key to the success of her business. 

“We want disruption and game-changing innovation,” she said, adding that she believed supplier diversity was linked to innovation and new ideas.

Cock also spoke about his experience as chair of his organisation’s LGBT and allies group. Despite not being LGBT himself, he said it was important not to “underestimate the impact of being in the majority” and the importance of role modelling. 

Gildert said it was important for leaders to “embrace being uncomfortable” when talking about diversity. “Isn’t that when you have the most heightened awareness?” she asked. “You realise how much you don’t know about the people you work with.”

Mary Macleod, senior client partner at Korn Ferry and former MP, said she had observed a “major shift” in how diversity was being embraced by senior leaders.

“I believe the will is there,” she said. “Diversity comes up in every discussion we have with every client. At least the discussion is on the table. This has to start at the top of organisations.” 

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