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When looking at “Embracing Equity” supply chains play a critical part.

The focus for International Women's day this year is #EmbraceEquity. So what are we doing at IAND to help deliver on this goal?

Elspeth Finch



In discussions about diversity and inclusion, the focus is often looking inward - what we can do within our own organisations, from recruitment to retention. But it is the reach that organisations have that may play the most critical part in delivering change.

Decisions on where organisations invest their spending power can be a catalyst for change, helping innovative small businesses grow and more female-led businesses thrive.

So what are the challenges for female-led firms?

Female founders looking for investment to start and grow companies face a number of challenges, as despite the huge amount of work that has gone into improving diversity, the industry seems to be going backwards.

In Europe, the funding for female teams has declined year-on-year from 3% in 2018 to only 1% now, with 87% funding going to all male teams. For university spin outs, the picture is equally bleak, with research by the Royal Academy of Engineering last year highlighting that 86% of spinouts have all male founders, and 92% have all male directors.

I can’t change the VC industry in terms of where investments are made, but what I can do is help another part of the ecosystem - where buying decisions are made.

What is the opportunity for procurement to drive change?

If we want innovative, female-led businesses to thrive then procurement may be the most critical lever of change. Using organisational buying power to deliver impact - as not all companies, and innovative companies are VC funded (after all there are 5.5M businesses in the UK). Importantly, the Social Value Act and UK procurement policy supports this.

The Social Value Act, that came into force on 31 January 2013 requires people who commission public services to think about how they can also secure wider social, economic and environmental benefits. This includes creating diverse, small and medium enterprise (SME)-focused supply chains and tackling inequality.

Reporting & tracking impact

The Social Value Act requires organisations to evidence the impact that is being delivered to support diversity and SME goals. One of the challenges facing organisations, is being able to report on these new Social Value metrics, without adding additional costs to their suppliers.

At IAND, part of our mission to transform supplier relationships is to make it easier for clients to work with diverse suppliers, big and small. A key part of this is integrating social value into supplier relationship management, including visibility of gender pay gap data - so diversity is not an add on - it is just part of what you consider, when sourcing and working with suppliers every day.

We know our clients care about working with their suppliers to support diversity and social value goals - we are here to make that simpler. As policies are great. Policies combined with action catalyse change.


Useful resources

Innovation Expert Group | Procuring Innovation

Social Value Act | info & resources

Procurement notice on social value | PPN 06/20

Royal Academy of Engineering | D&I resources


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