One aspect of diversity we are not talking much about in Canada is Supplier Diversity. Growing in popularity in the USA and UK, Supplier Diversity is another way for a company to exercise their diversity and inclusion commitments.

Supplier Diversity is simple: it requires companies to take a look at the businesses they use as suppliers, and make conscious decisions to broaden the pool by using qualified minority-owned businesses.

I can already hear the arguments about preferential treatment, quotas and “needing to hire the best company for the job” (sound familiar?).  It begs the question: how are companies picking their suppliers now? Could it be that they are choosing suppliers that they have done business with for years, companies they know, or a company they own themselves…?

I don’t know about you, but that sounds like preferential treatment to me,  and not the meritocracy often used as an argument against diversity.  

Suppliers are at the mercy of “the Old Boys Network” just as new hires and employees up for promotion – it’s not just what you know, but who you know. Supplier Diversity shines a light on this and asks companies to take a look at how they can contribute to diversifying their pool of suppliers – essentially giving companies owned by women, visible minorities, aboriginal people, people with disabilities and youth a foot in the door in a system that can be just as exclusive as hiring and promotion (both intentionally, and unintentionally).

Just like commitments to diversity and inclusion internally (hiring, mentorship, sponsorship, etc) supplier diversity brings opportunities for innovation, competitiveness and market knowledge.

Think of what you could be missing.

See more.

Copyright 2011 Annemarie Shrouder
author, speaker and facilitator on issues of diversity and inclusion

For more information, check out: Diversity Business Network , WEConnect and the Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council.

 
 
We continue to make strides in understanding the needs of, and increasing access for people with disabilities.  In Ontario, we have the Access for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).

But what does accessibility really mean?

While it may be easy to consider aspects of physical accessibility like ramps, automatically opening doors, etc., there are other aspects that we may not consider. The AODA lists 5 areas of accessibility. They are:

  • customer service
  • employment
  • information and communications
  • transportation
  • built environment
The first four have already been made into law, to reach the vision of an accessible Ontario by 2025. The fifth is being developed.

Employment isn’t often considered as an accessibility issue. But assumptions, stereotypes and misinformation create high barriers for people with disabilities – either physical or psychological – to be able to access work.

Creating an inclusive work environment challenges us to do things differently, and to consider alternate ways of getting the job done well. It also challenges us to examine how the way we see people can create barriers for hiring, placement and promotion.

It’s nice to see that some of the Fortune 500 companies are taking this on. Read about Proctor & Gamble’s recent foray into a more inclusive workplace – which includes hiring people with disabilities for the same jobs as their able-bodied peers.

See More.

Copyright 2011 Annemarie Shrouder
 

(c) 2011 Building Equitable Environments