engage magazine issue 001 spring \'06 - Page 22

22 OPINION Current Debates Situating Supplier Diversity Supplier diversity (SD) is not new in the UK observes Dr Kemal Ahson. Local authorities, for instance, have looked to promote the use of local suppliers and labour through enforcing S106 agreements for a while now. What is perhaps new, however, is how SD has entered the general lexicon of economic development. upplier Diversity is suggested as a means of encouraging innovation and increasing value and improving efficiency for businesses. Despite its ambiguity, Supplier Diversity can be understood as simply promoting the provision of goods and services by a wider range of businesses and entrepreneurs - for example, Black, Asian and minority development. Take, for instance, the drive to encourage supply chain efficiencies by Business Link and the DTI. Understanding supply chains is now a priority of business support, and many policy measures and support schemes aimed at improving supply chain potential of businesses and enhancing efficiencies through better supply chain management have been implemented or are under preparation. Although much of the interest around supply chain development remains with large corporate manufacturing concerns, the relevance for SMEs is increasingly recognised. Crucially, however, these initiatives have wider impacts: supply chain development can help maximise efficiency and influence the nature, scale and participation of target businesses in economic activity - a clear aim of Supplier Diversity. S ethnic (BAME) and women-owned small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) increasingly have the skills and experience to provide goods and services to large purchasing organisations in both the public and private sectors. Understandably, this growing recognition of SD needs to be situated in wider trends in public policy and economic engage SPRING ISSUE 2006