Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Status of Women Canada Pushing for Procurement to Support Female Entrepreneurs

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Status of Women Canada Pushing for Procurement to Support Female Entrepreneurs

Article excerpt

Libs consider using procurement to help women

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OTTAWA - The Liberal government is thinking about using its massive purchasing power to support women in business.

"Inclusive federal procurement is a potential avenue through which the Government of Canada can demonstrate leadership and support for women's entrepreneurship," said a November 2016 memo prepared for Patty Hajdu, who was then minister for the status of women.

"The Treasury Board of Canada is currently looking at opportunities to better link federal procurement practices with the broader socio-economic objectives of the Government," said the memo. "It is recognized that women and other under-represented groups should be considered in a renewed federal approach to procurement."

The Canadian Press obtained the document under the Access to Information Act.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tasked the federal public services minister -- a role being filled by Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr, while Judy Foote is on a leave of absence -- with modernizing procurement practices. That includes "social procurement" where the government uses contracts for goods and services to achieve broader policy goals, such as increasing the diversity of the supply chain.

Last year, Status of Women Canada asked the Conference Board of Canada to make the case for why using more diverse suppliers -- defined as businesses that are majority-owned, operated and controlled by women, visible minorities, Indigenous Peoples, members of the LGBTQ community or others facing discrimination -- makes good economic sense.

A draft of the report released alongside the memo said benefits can include higher profits, greater employee retention and even access to new markets, including the U.S., which has had supplier diversity policies at the municipal, state and federal level since the 1960s. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer included maintaining these programs among his goals for the new North American Free Trade Agreement.

The report pointed out that while many businesses had adopted such policies, public institutions and governments were behind the curve.

The report also looked to pre-empt some likely opposition to the idea by noting supplier diversity is neither a social program nor a guarantee of business.

"Corporations with an effective supplier diversity program do not compromise on the quality or the cost of the services or products they supply, nor do they change the service requirements for all suppliers," said the report. …

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