engage magazine issue 004 \'07 - Page 26

26 DIVERSE SUPPLY CHAIN Gerard Voogt Regional Procurement Director, Citigroup Business Services Chair, SDE Board of Directors Very quickly it became obvious that creating a level playing field for supplying large companies would have a major effect on the lives of some of the Europe’s disenfranchised. This in itself would not have been enough of an incentive for large companies and the push to move supplier diversity up the agenda came from America. “In a lot of cases, the trigger for involvement in SDE came from the large US-based companies,” Ms Holford said. “Supplier Diversity has been on the agenda in the US for over 30 years and the European arms of American companies already had a good understanding of the importance of a diverse supply chain.” Supplier diversity began as a corporate initiative but was boosted in the US when it was ruled that a percentage of local and federal authority spending would go to minority businesses. This forced companies to look at their supply chains with a more critical eye. Many companies have said that they try to ensure that their supply chain is diverse but struggle to get good information about the make up of various prospective suppliers. “Until very recently there was no European based list of suppliers that gave any information about the supplier company’s ethnicity or gender,” Ms Holford explained. SDE has set up a database of suppliers from all sectors which also list the supplier’s ethnicity, gender and disability status. “The SDE database was launched Apr 19th. We already have over 250 registered firms,” said Jo-Ann Butler, SDE’s programme director. Ms Butler, who came to Europe from the US, believes that Europe can take advantage of the lessons that American firms have learnt over the last three decades. “It has taken many years to get some things smoothed out,” she said. Europe should be able to learn from some of the engage | uk ISSUE FOUR 2007