03 Mar 2020

Purchasing to power Indigenous businesses

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The concept of supplier diversity promotes the purchase of goods and services from economically excluded and marginalised groups by the world’s largest buyers, such as governments and corporations. The idea is to deliberately choose a supplier not just because it’s the one you’ve always used, or because it’s the cheapest, but because you want to take into account the social impact your dollar spend will have on the business you choose.

In Australia, the social enterprise Supply Nation makes this easier for organisations by working alongside procurement teams to embed supplier diversity into their organisations. Their particular focus is to leverage spend with Australian Indigenous-owned businesses.

“Supply Nation’s work is important because it provides employment opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (ATSI) businesses. If we invest within those organisations, they’ll in turn support and employ others from their community,” says Scentre Group Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group Chair, Matthew Fisk.

A paper, commissioned by Supply Nation in 2018, reports that ATSI businesses are a hundred times more likely to employ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals, and also that for every $1 spent with a certified Indigenous business, $4.41 of social value is generated.[1]

“As a member of Supply Nation, Scentre Group has access to the largest directory of verified Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses in the country. This currently includes over 2,000 Indigenous suppliers, across construction, facilities management, professional services and catering supplies, and it’s growing year on year,” continues Matthew.

“As a vertically integrated business that designs, builds, markets and operates our portfolio of 37 Westfield Living Centres in Australia, we are a large purchaser of goods and services. This presents a clear opportunity to focus our buying power towards ATSI businesses, and in our 2019-21 Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) [insert hyperlink] we committed to establishing targets for our spend on Supply Nation listed businesses.”

This allows Scentre Group to simultaneously build a great business partnership that delivers on our procurement needs, while also supporting the traditionally underutilised Indigenous business sector.

Promoting the Supply Nation directory of Indigenous businesses within Scentre Group is a high-priority aim of Scentre Group’s RAP and will be undertaken through internal communications channels that include the company intranet, Supply Nation log-on page, emails and newsletters, and posters displayed at all assets.

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Scentre Group's Matt Fisk and Shusai owner and Director, Tim Reilly
 

Building solid partnerships with Indigenous businesses
Shusai is a Supply Nation accredited company and a long-standing Scentre Group partner. As a provider of traffic management services and security, Shusai has been an essential subcontractor on many of our major development projects in New South Wales in recent years, including Westfield Sydney, Westfield Warringah Mall and Westfield Kotara.

“Our relationship with Shusai is based on the fantastic, reliable services they always provide us with. They are a trusted and highly-regarded business partner of ours. The fact that they are an Indigenous-owned business is an important benefit that adds another significant dimension to our relationship,” says Scentre Group Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group Chair, Matthew Fisk.

Tim Reilly owner and Director from Shusai also deeply values the partnership. “As our partnership grows with Scentre Group so does our employment,” he says.

“With Indigenous employees from north of Kempsey to west of Penrith, all our staff enjoy working with Scentre group as they are helpful and respectful. Over the last three years, five of our Indigenous employees have bought their own land and houses. We are looking forward to keeping our partnership with Scentre group for many years to come.”

 
 
[1] The Sleeping Giant Social Return on Investment Report commissioned by Supply Nation and published 2018.

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