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Supplier diversity is not a new idea. In the U.S., it’s been in practice for 45 years. Here in Canada, diverse procurement has been growing steadily over the last decade. Yet, when asked, most Canadian organizations say they can’t find minority suppliers and don’t know how to certify them when they do. Happily, one organization does both.
The Canadian Aboriginal & Minority Supplier Council (CAMSC) was established in 2004 to support the development of supplier diversity in this country – which CAMSC defines as “the proactive business process of sourcing products and services from previously under-utilized suppliers.” And it counts Canada’s largest companies – including banks, retailers, and telecommunications giants – among its members.
CAMSC maintains a database of certified suppliers. Certification is a rigorous process that allows CAMSC to verify that a company is owned, managed, and controlled by an aboriginal or minority owner. “Companies must be recertified each year to ensure that there has been no change in ownership or management,” says Cassandra Dorrington, President of CAMSC.
When they’re looking for suppliers for a particular contract, corporate members have access to CAMSC’s database. “We identify potential suppliers for them. And if we can’t find what they’re looking for, we have a larger pool to call on, firms we can approach and ask if they’re interested in certification.” Dorrington adds that relationship building is equally important. “A key element of our program is to provide connection opportunities between our corporate members and our certified suppliers so that they get to know one another even before they do business together.”
Dorrington also points out that sourcing and certification aren’t the only challenges. There’s a persistent myth that it’s not acceptable to ask about ethnicity of ownership. CAMSC consulted with legal counsel so that they could clarify this for their membership. “As long as your question is linked to a supplier diversity program within your organization, it’s perfectly legal,” she says.
Today, CAMSC has 60 corporate members and 250 certified suppliers. And business is booming across the sector they’re working so hard to support. Aboriginal and minority-owned businesses are growing faster than their mainstream counterparts and career opportunities for aboriginals and minorities are climbing, too. “These companies tend to be more diverse employers,” Dorrington notes. “And in less than a decade, there has been a $500 million spend with diverse businesses.”
“Any organization can do this,” Dorrington declares. “We help them create a foundation and then they’re off and running.”
In their own words: CAMSC delivers programs and processes to promote and facilitate procurement opportunities between major corporations in Canada and suppliers of all sizes owned and operated by Canadian Aboriginals and Minorities. Source: CAMSC.ca.
For media interviews:
Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council