Procurement is under pressure to engage more in supplier diversity. But help is at hand from organisations who can help make connections.
In May 2015, the Australian Government set out Indigenous company contract targets for federal departments and agencies. Starting from 0.5 per cent, the targets were set to rise to 3 per cent by 2019-20.
The joint message from the Minister for Indigenous Affairs and Minister for Finance claims, “the policy will ensure that Indigenous businesses have the chance to compete and showcase the products they have to offer.”
Supply Nation is the Australian leader in Indigenous supplier diversity. The organisation exists to connect Indigenous-owned businesses with the procurement teams of government and corporate organisations.
Supply Nation has worked closely with government to collaborate and influence the evolution of procurement policy that is now represented by the Indigenous Procurement Policy.
We sat down with Supply Nation’s CEO, Laura Berry, to talk more about the importance of this benchmark, and how organisations across Australia can strive to meet it.
Why is engaging with Indigenous-owned businesses and suppliers so important for organisations across Australia?
Supply Nation strives to increase opportunities for Indigenous-owned businesses to supply their goods and services to large organisations. Supplier diversity puts under-represented businesses on a level playing field with other qualified suppliers when it comes to competing for the supply of quality goods and services.
One of the major benefits of opening the door to additional markets and engaging in supplier diversity, is that it facilitates the growth of Indigenous businesses. This results in increased economic activity and employment, and channels greater social value back to Indigenous communities.
In addition, data clearly shows that supplier diversity drives significant and measurable long-term business benefits, aside from the goods and services, which can ultimately provide a unique experience to customers. The addition of Indigenous-owned businesses can bring increased competitiveness, innovation and savings to the supply chain.
What qualities and capabilities have you built that supported you in achieving better procurement outcomes?
Creating an environment where our members and suppliers can connect, develop relationships and identify future procurement opportunities is integral to the work of Supply Nation.
Supply Nation assists our government and corporate members with tools and strategies to embed supplier diversity within their supply chain through a tailored account management model.
We also provide support for business matching, opportunity briefings, supplier promotions, external training opportunities and networking events.
What are the biggest challenges Supply Nation faces in procurement at the moment?
As a not-for-profit organisation, the procurement challenges facing Supply Nation itself are not significant. However, for our Indigenous suppliers, the challenges are the same as those faced by small businesses across Australia.
These include the difficulty in breaking into established supply chains and conventional procurement processes, or in developing relationships with buyers.
With the Federal Government’s Indigenous Procurement Policy, there’s more pressure for government buyers to find and engage with Indigenous-owned businesses. We see a real challenge – and a real opportunity – in facilitating the connection between the businesses and procurement professionals.
What’s the first step for organisations looking to alter their processes to meet new supplier diversity requirements around Indigenous suppliers?
Step 1 would be to become a member of Supply Nation (if you’re not already)!
Take the opportunity to search for goods or services through our directory, Indigenous Business Direct. You can engage with a Supply Nation Relationship Manager who can help you navigate the process.
We can help with changing internal policies and procedures, connecting with businesses that meet your requirements, and setting up established and sustainable supplier diversity practices that are modelled on world best practice.
How can attendees benefit from attending GovProcure 2016 (where Laura is speaking)?
We have some amazing, successful and diverse Indigenous-owned businesses that are growing fast and delivering incredible products and services. I’d recommend everyone comes along to understand how they can engage not only to hit their targets, but also to get some insight into the benefits these businesses can bring to your supply chain.
Among other Australian procurement leaders, the event will also feature Ian Rudgley, CPO for the City of Sydney, a council that despite not being subject to the federal targets, has award-winning engagement and mentorship of Indigenous suppliers.
For more details on the agenda please download the brochure.