Scheme to get diverse suppliers into corporate supply chains

posted by Andrew Allen and Juliette Rowsell
26 July 2021

Unilever, WPP, Google and Dow have backed a new initiative to train and prepare 300 UK ethnic-minority businesses (EMBs) to become ready to participate in their supply chains.

The companies have partnered in the accelerator programme with MSDUK, an organisation that champions the inclusion of EMBs in corporate supply chains. 

The move comes as McDonald's announced a new target that will see it increase its spending with diverse suppliers to 25% of total supplier spend. 

MSDUK said research revealed EMB start-ups faced difficulties in building and sustaining businesses from a number of quarters, which led to them being underrepresented in private and public sector supply chains.

These included a lack of early-stage investment, venture capital funding and access to social capital and mentors. 

The programme is inviting businesses with ethnic founders from across the UK, which have an innovative product or service, to apply to join the free four-month programme between now and 30 August. 

Procurement experts from the participating organisations and other entrepreneurs will help provide experiential training.  

Alexandra Tarmo, head of partnerships and social procurement at Unilever, said the initiative was part of the company’s commitment to spend €2bn of its annual supplier spend with diverse suppliers by 2025.   

Tig Matthews, CPO at WPP, said the initiative would “arm ethnic minority-owned businesses with the networks, training, and skillset to help them grow and succeed.”

“Strengthening the wider supplier network provides greater opportunities to bring diversity of ideas and perspectives into WPP,” Matthews said. 

Meanwhile, McDonald's has committed to allocate 25% of its annual supply chain spending in the US – around $3.5 billion – to suppliers owned by women and minorities by 2025. 

This is up on a current 23% and represents an increase of $200m spent on partnerships with diverse suppliers. 

The target is part of McDonald’s new Mutual Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (MCDEI), which includes annual equity and inclusion training for all employees and an aim to increase minority representation in leadership. 

Over 20 of the company’s suppliers have signed up to the pledge. 

The fast food chain said: “The company and its MCDEI signatories will work toward the shared goals of supporting and empowering diverse-owned businesses, creating new pipelines of diverse talent, driving greater innovation and competition, and building economic growth in diverse communities.”

In April this year SM reported Procter & Gamble (P&G) announced it had spent $2.8bn with diverse-owned businesses between 2008 and 2020 and added 21 diverse-owned suppliers to its supply base.

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