WE Connect Event – Supporting Supplier Diversity

We've reported recently on the social enterprise sector, with Social Enterprise UK, who support the sector, gaining a higher profile all the time. We’ve also featured MSDUK and their conference.

Now, making up the triumvirate of "supplier diversity" organisations who are aiming to support various elements of the diverse supplier universe, we're pleased to tell you about the WE Connect conference coming up in November.

WE Connect supports women-owned businesses. I’m not sure we can call this a minority-related issue of course, given that women outnumber men in many countries, and in the developed world, are beginning to do the same in many professions (medicine, law etc). I noted some years ago when I was CIPS President that the graduation ceremony had hit the 50:50 mark.

But it is undeniably true that women are still less likely to set up their own businesses and pursue the entrepreneurial path. So WE Connect is not so much about any special pleading for women; it is more a support network that hopefully will encourage new generations of women to go out, build businesses, and do amazing things. That will have benefits for all of us.

For procurement people, it is really a similar message to that of Social Enterprise UK and MSDUK. Apart from the opportunity to get involved with WE Connect and give direct assistance, such as attending the conference, it is about being open to the idea of looking for and encouraging new, innovative businesses.

Often, those business will be from the “diverse” community, but frankly, that is what every procurement professional should be doing; the fact that includes women-owned firms (as well as those other categories of business) is almost incidental in my view. It’s about openness to different approaches and suppliers, not just going back to the “same old same old”.

So the conference is on November 16th and 17th. The 16th is aimed principally at female business owners, then I’m participating on the 17th which is aimed more at procurement folk who are interested in the supplier diversity field. You can find more details here.

I’m participating in a panel discussion, chaired by our friend and CIPS Past President Shirley Cooper who I suspect will see it as her job to give me a hard time! I’ve also just realised that I am the only man involved … and the other distinguished panellists include Gill Thorpe and Sue Moffatt, both well known in the procurement world, and Baroness Lorely Burt (ex Lib-Dem politician);  OK, I’m a little worried now!

There’s some other sessions that day that look very interesting too; including Helene Reardon-Bond (Deputy Director - Gender Equality Policy, Government Equalities Office), who will share an insight into the work the UK Government is doing to support women-owned enterprises. And “Data Gazing - Secrets to Measuring your Supplier Diversity” (from Charlie Stockford, CEO and Joe Jones of SustainIt) is something that any analytical soul like me should find interesting.

More to come nearer the time, but looking forward to participating!  

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