MSDUK Conference – A Focus On Minority-Owned Suppliers

It’s some time since we featured MSDUK, “the UK’s leading non-profit membership organisation driving inclusive procurement. We promote the ethos of diversity and inclusion in public and private sector supply chains by identifying and introducing innovative and entrepreneurial ethnic minority owned businesses (EMBs)”.

The organisation appears to be going from strength to strength, and the planning is well underway for what is going to be their biggest ever event, the annual conference, exhibition, awards and on September 21st – 22nd at the Grange Tower Bridge Hotel in London. We’re going to be covering the highlights before, during and after the event.

Why should procurement people and organisations care about buying from minority owned businesses? Well, we’d like to think that any good procurement professional would agree with two key principles that might form part of our “ten commandments” of procurement.

Firstly, we should always be open to and indeed seek out new, innovative, interesting suppliers. That sense of curiously and openness seems an essential characteristic of the best procurement people we know.  Secondly, our procurement processes should not be biased – consciously or otherwise – against small firms, those less experienced at competing through formal sourcing process, or those that just aren’t the usual suspects that we’ve worked with for years.

It’s hard to see that anyone could really disagree with those statements. Yet too often, organisations (and their procurement people) do stick to what they know; they buy from the same, usually large, safe suppliers, and run clumsy or biased selection processes that are difficult for new potential suppliers to infiltrate.

So the message from MSDUK is not that procurement should show favouritism to minority owned firms; it is about being open-minded and giving different businesses a chance. MSDUK help those firms and large buyers link up and understand each other, and their event in September features conventional presentations as well as opportunities for networking. There are already many high profile organisations backing MSDUK and the event, with for instance a panel discussion made up of Tim Milliwood, VP - Purchasing, Cummins;  Al Williams, CPO, Accenture; Larry Phelan, CPO, EY and Malcom Harrison, CEO at Crown Commercial Services.

There’s also a keynote from Lord Karan Bilimoria, founder of Cobra beer. That should be great; I’ve heard a little of the “inside story” of Cobra from a friend in the Indian restaurant trade, and it is a very impressive and fascinating story.

We’ll be featuring some of the firms and CPOs who support MSDUK in the coming weeks; but you can find out more about the event here. And we’re grateful to Mayank Shah, founder of MSDUK, for offering Spend Matters readers a 10% discount on tickets; just quote discount code SM10 when you book.

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