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Supplier Diversity - how to find out what it means and the opportunities that exist

We spoke with Laura Berry, CEO of Supply Nation, about Supplier Diversity, Indigenous Procurement and the opportunities and case studies that are available through the partnership with the School.

Laura Berry, CEO of Supply Nation, with Darren Fullerton, CEO of Winc ANZ

1. Laura, we're delighted that Supply Nation has recently become an Industry Partner to the School; can you tell our members how 'supplier diversity' is an increasingly important part of successful projects, supply chains and businesses?

Supplier diversity is a global movement which was started in the US in the 1960s at the height of the civil rights movement. We’ve got 45 years of data from there and other countries around the world which shows that having a diverse supply chain provides significant business advantage through innovation, risk management, higher value and flexibility.

2. How is Australia's Indigenous business sector evolving and growing at the moment - what changes are you seeing?

Supply Nation is about to enter our 10th year of operation – and in that time the Indigenous business sector has grown and matured exponentially. Many organisations now include supplier diversity in their Reconciliation Action Plan commitments, and the introduction of federal and state government procurement policies with hard targets has really moved the dial in terms of behavioural change. We’re seeing businesses in every state and territory and in industries ranging from consultants to contractors; from construction to cleaning and from cryogenics to climbing gear!

3. How does Supply Nation work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses and with procurement teams from government and corporate Australia to achieve success?

Supply Nation verifies Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses through a world-leading 5 step process. Any businesses live on the online database (Indigenous Business Direct) have been verified as either Registered (50%+ Indigenous owned) or Certified (51%+ Indigenous owned, managed and controlled).

On the other side, Supply Nation’s team of Relationship Managers works with our membership of corporate and government organisations to support the development and implementation of their supplier diversity programs through consulting, business matching and training.

4. Are there any case studies or personal stories that you particularly love from your work that best explain what you do to people in the property, construction and infrastructure sectors?

There is so much opportunity in the infrastructure, property and construction sectors at the moment, and we have a number of fantastic Indigenous businesses working and competing in this space.  For me, I love to hear the stories of engagement from our Indigenous-owned construction firms, such as Keneally constructions and PSG Holdings. As these businesses grow and mature, they make firm commitments to mentor, engage and contract with other Indigenous businesses in their own supply chains.  This is a perfect example of the growth and maturity of Indigenous businesses in these sectors, and the flow-on effects are significant.  Smaller businesses can build up skills, capability and capacity, and the rates of Indigenous employment – in local communities where projects are based – are in double digits!

5. What are some of the most effective things that organisations small, medium and large can start doing to improve supplier diversity and encourage Indigenous businesses through their supply chains, even if they're only just starting out on this journey?

The first step is simply to consider Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses. For your next procurement activity, search on Indigenous Business Direct (www.supplynation.org.au) and you’ll find a range of Indigenous businesses that could fulfil your need.

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