The Future of Women-Owned Businesses and Supplier Diversity in Canada

Originally published in the WBE Canada Magazine; Issue 5. Don’t miss out, subscribe to our magazine HERE.

By Selsey Brown, North America Supplier Inclusion & Diversity Manager, Accenture

At Accenture, we believe inclusive procurement creates long term value for our clients and our communities and helps us run a responsible business. At the same time, these practices help our suppliers grow their representation and influence in their own markets, contributing to our collective shared success.

Our Supplier Inclusion & Sustainability Program is global; to drive a more inclusive marketplace, we reached 21 countries in fiscal 2021 and plan to expand into more countries in fiscal 2022. The program also works closely with our Accessibility Center of Excellence to establish sufficient accessibility roadmaps for our web-based technology. We categorize diverse suppliers as minority, women, small- and medium-sized, service-disabled veterans, veterans, historically underutilized, people with disabilities, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) enterprises.

We monitor our diverse spend most consistently within the United States and Canada. In fiscal 2021, our U.S. diverse spend increased from 31% in fiscal 2020 to 32%, while our Canadian spend was 25%, an increase from 19% in fiscal 2020.

Since 2006, we have put our commitment to supplier inclusion and diversity into action by mentoring diverse suppliers across the globe through our intensive 18-month Global Diverse Supplier Development Program (DSDP) initiative. This program matches senior Accenture executives with diverse supplier companies for holistic mentoring. This year we evolved the program by expanding the mentorship pool to include client-mentors, in addition to our Accenture experts. In order to graduate, our DSDP mentees must attend monthly meetings with their mentor/sponsors and participate in online training sessions. They must also demonstrate their progress as a diverse supplier by completing business health assessments and quarterly progress reports throughout the 18-month program.

In early 2021, we set a new DSDP goal: by the end of fiscal 2023, we will graduate 250 diverse suppliers. As of the end of fiscal 2021, a total of 196 have graduated. In fiscal 2021, DSDP graduated 19 suppliers in South Africa and seven in India (our first virtual class, which is looking forward to an in-person ceremony in fiscal 2022). In fiscal 2022, we launched our program in Australia; and we began our seventh class in the United States, which helped mark our 15th DSDP anniversary.

This past fiscal year, we unveiled the DSDP Sustainability pilot program, a new sustainability-focused program based on the Ten Principles of the United Nations Global Compact and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The DSDP Sustainability program will help suppliers accelerate their transition toward building their own responsible business models. These models help suppliers deliver the right products and services for their customers, contributing to improving their overall sustainability performance and demonstrating their commitment to climate action and human rights.

At Accenture, our goal is to create a culture of sharing learnings, experiences, and resources to drive collaborative successes. Each year, we continue to evolve our DSDP program. In fiscal 2021, we successfully launched a digital tool to give small and medium-sized enterprises easier access to information and opportunities for diverse partners. Developed by a DSDP graduate in South Africa, the digital ecosystem simplifies interactions between diverse suppliers and businesses to drive growth and sustainability through development, commercial opportunities, and tools to thrive in the Information and digital age. To date, the tool has allowed us to host all DSDP programming virtually since November 2020.

Sesley Brown is the North America Supplier Inclusion & Diversity Manager, leading the award winning Global Diverse Supplier Development Program (DSDP) workstream.