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The Glass Cliff - Advice to Procurement

We’ve all come across the concept of a ‘glass ceiling’ but have you heard about the ‘glass cliff’ - and how does this affect Supplier Diversity?

The glass ceiling is a metaphor used to represent an invisible barrier that prevents a given demographic from rising beyond a certain level in a hierarchy.


The glass cliff however refers to the phenomenon whereby members of certain marginalised groups (such as those based on gender, race or disability) are over-represented in leadership positions that are risky and precarious.


Critics & detractors of Supplier Diversity programmes will often proclaim “Just choose the best person/company for the job”.


This is said without truly understanding the purpose of supplier diversity programmes, and accepting the un/conscious bias some communities experience, making the need for inclusive procurement programmes a necessity.


The challenge faced however is to not inadvertently construct a glass cliff or overly difficult situations that companies/candidate are doomed to fail, thus reinforcing any bias that exists.


So what can be done to ensure Procurement are creating an environment where Diverse Suppliers can succeed?


✅ Revisit your RFP/RFQ documentation, scaling back questions that SMEs cannot answer, thus impacting their participation.

Do they really need £10m insurance coverage?


✅ Do not reduce requirements but instead partner a diverse supplier with a large incumbent supplier, and split/award revenues accordingly (90/10).


✅ Avoid pigeon-holing diverse suppliers, expecting they certain diversities excel as certain duties/tasks/jobs. e.g. Neurodivergent owned businesses can do more than computer coding, and women can own constructions firms


About Us

"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 2022 Kaleida will publish £750b 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.

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