Is Supplier Diversity discriminatory?
I believe that most people accept the purpose of Supplier Diversity: To increase access to opportunities for businesses owned by sections of communities who experience prejudice, bias and discrimination.
But there are some who question whether or not Supplier Diversity actually discriminates, and believe it contravenes the Equality Act 2010.
Let’s explore the Equality Act 2010 Vs Supplier Diversity.
What is the Equality Act 2010?
The Equality Act 2010 legally protects ‘people’ from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society, and who it protects is based on 9 Protected characteristics.
For clarity these characteristics are:
Age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation.
People with these characteristics can experience bias and prejudice in the workplace including but not limited to: Reduced access to opportunities, disparities in pay, fewer promotions, and in some cases challenges in simply getting an interview.
The Equality Act 2010 made it illegal to discriminate against people based on those 9 characteristics listed above.
The Equality Act protects ‘people’. Humans. Not things.
What is Supplier Diversity?
It is a company’s programme designed specially to increase access to opportunities to businesses (entities/things) owned & operated by historically marginalised communities. These businesses are called ‘Diverse Suppliers’.
Internationally there are 7 recognised marginalised communities:
Women, Ethnic Minorities, Disabled, LGBTQ+, Veterans, Disabled Veterans, and the Neurodivergent owned business.
The Equality Act 2010 does place a duty on public bodies to prevent discrimination in all aspects of service provision, including Public sector procurement.
Should white, cis-gendered, straight men be threatened by Supplier Diversity?
Corporate businesses typically carve off (just) (on average) 4%-8% of their annual budget to spend with diverse suppliers. 96-92% is typically inaccessible to Diverse Suppliers.
Why can there be confusion between understanding Supplier Diversity and the Equality Act 2010?
The Equality Act 2010 is often misunderstood, misinterpreted, and misrepresented for the diversity in a Supplier’s firm vs Supplier Diversity - which looks at the identity of its owners, not the make up of its staff.
A supplier can be a white, cis-gendered, male owned business and whilst they are not be a diverse supplier, due to the Equality act 2010 that same employer may have a depth of diversity that shows representation.
Equality Act 2010 vs Supplier Diversity.
People vs Things.
"Finding Diverse Suppliers is time-consuming as the process today involves researching against multiple databases."
Founded in 2019, Kaleida International is a B2B marketplace for Tenders connecting Buyers to Suppliers, and Diverse Suppliers. With a focus on helping the Chief Procurement Office achieve its ESG goals, and alerting companies to new revenue opportunities, Kaleida's fully-inclusive platform helps Buyers find, identify and assess Diverse Suppliers they can invite to Tender.
In 2023 Kaleida will publish £600b in both Public and Private sector tenders for suppliers, and Diverse suppliers to apply to. By increasing access to commercial opportunity, we believe we can drive equality through providing access to economic parity.