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Time for the private sector to take the lead in Supplier Diversity

With government changes and economic turbulence, Māori and Pasifika businesses face the challenge of navigating these waters to secure their share of contracts.

Now more than ever, our businesses need champions, advocates who will ensure that the playing field is level and accessible, irrespective of the political or economic climate.

The corporate world has an unprecedented opportunity to lean in and support this movement. By doing so, corporates can play a critical role in not merely endorsing supplier diversity but in actively shaping an inclusive marketplace.

In Aotearoa, the movement towards supplier diversity has been driven largely by the hand of government policy. Sparked by the introduction of a progressive procurement target, compelling government agencies to direct 8% of their expenditure toward Māori businesses. This policy lever has not been unique to Aotearoa; it mirrors global methods that have been effective in driving change and fostering growth for diverse suppliers.

Whilst government policy has set the tone and raised awareness for the practice, globally what we have seen is that the private sector often paves the way for more dynamic and robust support of supplier diversity.

Corporates have demonstrated their capacity to act decisively and with great impact, becoming the stalwarts of this transformative cause.

The Billion Dollar Round Table in The United States of America stands as a testament to this — an elite group of multinational corporations that have each committed to spending over one billion dollars with diverse suppliers. This consortium not only champions substantial investment in supplier diversity but also serves as an advocacy group for the advancement of the practice.

Call to action in Aotearoa

Turning our gaze back to Aotearoa, there is definitive momentum as the private sector steps aboard the supplier diversity 'waka' (canoe). Success stories abound, with Māori and Pasifika businesses securing more opportunities and breaking into new markets. Its pleasing that over 60% of the Buyers that have joined Amotai as Buyers are private sector buyers. That reflects an intentional action to source Māori and Pasifika businesses. However, the call to action resonates with even greater urgency today.

What could a private sector advocacy group look like? Could we have a Billion Dollar Round table equivalent? Could we have Corporate Buyers set new benchmarks? Could the private sector be the ones advocating to governments to lift its targets?

Māori and Pasifika are currently 25% of the population with a forecast to hit 35%. Whilst the government has an 8% target for Māori, there is an opportunity to go much further. Going further could lie in the hands of the private sector. It would be an exciting day to see targets that reflect the population and even better to see those targets achieved.

We need ambitious targets and ambitious pursuit.

Hikina te mānuka. (Take up the challenge)