Tuesday 21 January 2014

Natural Selection Versus Positive Discrimination – the SME/Diversity Debate (Part 2)

By Steven Low

Following on from the posting in Part 1 of this two part post, unfortunately, many organisations are stuck between two pretty distinct choices. They need the savings generated by their size and scale but also need to tell the world that they are helping small and diverse businesses in a period of continued economic instability. The financial and public sectors in particular are heavily burdened by this conundrum.

It’s also difficult when you seek to do this but also don’t put a target against the right mix for your organisation. If you put a target and enforce, surely you open up yourself to having to positively discriminate if there is a danger of not meeting it? By not measuring, how do you prove you are doing enough to the outside world and seek to maintain or enhance your reputation? Capturing sufficiently useful details against your suppliers to help you do some form of reporting (let’s not call it measurement for now!) on this becomes very important. Your larger suppliers can also help you out by tracking their out-sourced/sub-contracted elements of contracts let through you. This 2nd tier supplier list can also allow you to showcase spend making it through to local and diverse suppliers. You can be damned if you do measure, damned if you don’t.

So how do we solve this dilemma? I’m not sure there is a definitive answer. It depends on the company as there is surely a different balance to be struck depending on the needs of the organisation. I would be interested to hear other people’s experience of trying to answer this problem!

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