BITC and Mitie urge employers to develop diversity and inclusion policies for their supply chains

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Business in the Community (BITC) and Mitie have joined forces to urge business to work only with suppliers with diversity and equality policies.

BITC said diversity and inclusion in the supply chain means "working with suppliers to ensure they have inclusive workplace policies and practices in place as well as engaging businesses that are at least 50% owned by, or employ a large proportion of, people from groups that may suffer discrimination, ensuring they have access to opportunities in your company's supply chain".

The organisation believes there is a strong business case for this in the UK given 8% of all small and medium-sized enterprises are owned by people from a black, Asian or minority ethnic background (BAME), jumping to 24% in London.

Diversity is increasingly a key part of many organisations' corporate responsibility objectives, and also helps serve social objectives in community strategies.

Romeo Effs, group supply chain manager at facilities and property management company Mitie, said: "Diverse suppliers are often smaller, and more agile, and so provide better flexibility in service levels helping to mitigate supply chain risk and volatility."

Sandra Kerr, national director, Race for Opportunity campaign, BITC, added: "Strengthening our diverse communities will ultimately contribute to overall economic growth."

This new issue brief follows a joint workshop run by the Marketplace and Race for Opportunity teams, in which practical case studies were shared to supply chain practitioners, including Mitie.

Recognising a responsible and holistic approach to their supply chain as essential in reaching targets set with their shareholders, Mitie is adamant it makes sound business sense.

Effs added: "Organisations need to recognise and accept that supply chain diversity is a 'marathon not a 'sprint' and as such it's important to develop a real partnership ethos, taking your people, clients and suppliers with you on the journey.

BITC offers a range of resources to help its members develop their approach to supply chain diversity and inclusion.