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Supplier Diversity Blog by supplier.io

What does Supplier Diversity look like in Canada?

Despite the fact that Canada is a relatively young country, it is a prominent member of G7—”The Group of Seven” of the largest advanced economies in the world. Since gaining complete sovereignty from Great Britain in 1982, Canada has been able to sustain a steady economic growth trajectory largely due to its thriving businesses and large volume of national exports.

Like other prosperous western nations, Canada has begun to embrace supplier diversity initiatives in recent years as an essential component of national progress. Learning from the United States’ and other countries’ triumphs and tribulations over the past 55 years, Canada has been quick to institute supplier diversity practices and see their impact.

A Brief History of Supplier Diversity in Canada

In 2016, Supplier Diversity Alliance Canada (SDAC) was created with the mission of providing “support, guidance, and consultation to stakeholders on the direct impacts of developing and applying effective inclusive procurement policies and practices.” SDAC was founded by three separate organizations: the Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council, Canadian Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, and Women Business Enterprises Canada. Although these groups had already seen success in their own respective areas, the founding of SDAC represented one of the first collaborative efforts to transform business practices on a national scale.

The Canadian Approach to Supplier Diversity

As a latecomer to the scene, Canada has had the benefit of learning from other nations’ early efforts to change business procurement practices.

SDAC and other budding supplier diversity programs have aptly applied their focus and invested their resources into tackling two of the biggest barriers preventing adoption: education about supplier diversity and access to diverse suppliers. Current efforts focus on educating both stakeholders and business owners on the benefits of supplier diversity programs, and on helping qualified companies register as diverse suppliers to gain access to business opportunities.

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The Canadian government has also been quick to back the efforts of independent organizations. The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service has made a commitment to helping educate suppliers on the benefits of becoming certified as a diverse supplier. To this end, they provide guidance and helpful resources to support minority- and women-owned businesses through the certification process. Their initiatives attempt to address all aspects of the supply chain (large corporations, tier one suppliers, and tier two suppliers) and focus on tailoring supplier diversity messaging and programs to the needs and goals of each sector therein. For example, their report “The Business Case for Supplier Diversity in Canada” attempts to address potential barriers to supplier diversity at each level of the supply chain and provide a comprehensive plan for overcoming them.

Additionally, in 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau publicly met with the Canadian Minister of Status of Women Maryam Monsef and Katja Iversen, the president and CEO of the international women’s right’s group Women Deliver, to discuss ways that diverse government procurement practices could be mandated from the top down. As part of a Liberal government initiative, Trudeau has entrusted the Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility to update federal procurement practices to include “social procurement” policies aimed at diversifying the business landscape. By early 2018, the Canadian government had announced a new social procurement initiative focused on providing greater transparency into federal procurement practices and providing more opportunities for underrepresented populations to participate in the supply chain.

At the province and city levels, local governing bodies have also pushed to embrace supplier diversity policies. In 2016, the City of Toronto made a statement by becoming an early adopter of a diverse procurement policy aimed at reducing poverty and social inequality.

Comparing Supplier Diversity Initiatives in the U.S. and Canada

Although the U.S. remains a global leader in supplier diversity due to the early adoption of such initiatives in the 1960s, the public momentum behind these programs must be sustained in order to continue making strides. Outside of multinational corporations, small and medium-sized American businesses are still just beginning to understand what supplier diversity is and to learn about the competitive advantages it can offer to their growing company.

The reason Canada has been able to make such rapid strides in a relatively short time frame is due to the country’s all-encompassing approach. Although supplier diversity has been embraced by a number of large U.S. corporations (including 97 percent of Fortune 500 companies), these initiatives aren’t yet a key talking point in American political debates. In contrast, the Canadian government’s efforts to educate the Canadian population on supplier diversity have helped bring supplier diversity into popular consciousness and transformed it into a key social and economic issue for Canadian voters.

Enhancing Your Supplier Diversity Program

It’s no secret that the early adopters of supplier diversity programs will see the greatest impact on their bottom line, but creating an effective supplier diversity program from scratch can feel overwhelming without adequate direction or resources to draw from.

Additionally, managing a supplier diversity program and keeping up-to-date on reports can be a full-time job if you’re not using a software solution to automate and standardize the process. The companies that see the greatest return on their investment are those that leverage strategic partners to streamline data collection and reporting, provide greater insight into the performance of their initiatives, and empower them to make more informed decisions.

To learn how to enhance your supplier diversity program in order to see a greater impact on your core business objectives, follow the link below to enroll in our free email course.


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The team has a long history in driving innovative solutions in supplier diversity. We believe that companies deserve solutions that are effective and provide measurable value and results. Started more than a decade ago, supplier.io has rapidly become a prominent provider of supplier diversity solutions to leading corporations. We currently support customers in automotive, healthcare, insurance, retail, manufacturing, education, and banking. One in five Fortune 50 company relies on supplier.io.