SASKPOWER’S TIER-2 DIVERSE SUPPLIER SPEND INITIATIVE: Advancing Women Entrepreneurs and Inclusive Business Practices

SASKPOWER’S TIER-2 DIVERSE SUPPLIER SPEND INITIATIVE: Advancing Women Entrepreneurs and Inclusive Business Practices. Originally published in WBE Canada Magazine; Issue 12. Read our full magazine HERE.

SaskPower is committed to a diverse and sustainable supply chain. Enabling the growth of our diverse supply chain allows us to secure the best value possible for our company, our shareholders, and our customers.

Embracing supplier diversity and inclusive business practices is integral to our procurement strategy. SaskPower is dedicated to advancing women entrepreneurs and seeks opportunities to enhance participation in our supply chain for diverse suppliers.

“Customers and suppliers are interested in how SaskPower is increasing its commitment to sustainability. We are focused on equitable representation and decarbonizing our grid. Initiatives like tracking and rewarding the inclusion of diverse subcontractors into our projects allow our primary contractors and SaskPower to be better positioned to embrace a more sustainable future.
-Rhea Brown, Executive VP Customer Experience and Procurement

In 2020, SaskPower expanded our supplier diversity program to include women-owned businesses as a diversity group we actively identify, support and report on. Within just two years, we incorporated evaluation benefits for women ownership in our competitive process to demonstrate a meaningful commitment to the value women-owned businesses regularly provide. Last year we extended the program nationally, becoming the first Saskatchewan-based corporate member of WBE Canada. Our program’s momentum is strong as we have surpassed our spend targets since the program’s inception.

Although we have seen positive results, we know there is still a lot of work to be done. We recently reviewed our supply chain development strategy and realized:

  • Most of our diverse businesses are not bidding on competitive projects.
  • Many diverse companies in our supply chain work with SaskPower as a sub-contractor.
  • A significant number of these diverse sub-contractors were identified through our major construction projects.

These findings motivated SaskPower to implement a new initiative within our Supplier Diversity Program, a pilot for Tier-2 Diverse Spend. This means that since August 2023, SaskPower has incorporated additional evaluation criteria in our competitive procurements for major construction projects. Prime contractors are asked to provide evidence of a diverse supplier engagement strategy and a monetary target for diverse spend through the employment of diverse suppliers within their subcontractor roles.

“Tier-2 spend reporting does not replace contracting directly with diverse suppliers. Advancing underrepresented companies is important to SaskPower, and we expect it to be important to our prime contractors as well. We believe this program will influence how prime contractors allocate their resources on our major construction projects. This initiative signifies that expectation and introduces accountability while progressing SaskPower towards a more sustainable supply chain.”
-Alison O’Reilly | Specialist, Supplier Relationship Management & Program Lead for Supplier Diversity

Currently, the program includes three major construction projects: Ermine/Yellowhead Plant Expansion, Aspen Power Station, and Regina Operations Maintenance Complex.

This initiative prompted SaskPower to reconsider how we are communicating about this program. As a result, we are:

  • Meeting with prime contractors to share our program objectives and offer support to help them meet their new contractual target for diverse spend.
  • Sharing the list of projects that include the diverse spend requirement, as well as contact information with diverse suppliers, so they can begin building relationships with these prime contractors.
  • Internally, we are meeting with our project managers to share the program’s purpose.

Our pilot is scheduled to be reassessed in August 2024. We will consider the program objectives, design, and outcomes. Adjustments may be made to improve the program or meet new objectives.

As SaskPower pioneer’s supplier diversity programming in Saskatchewan, our aspiration is to build a replicable program, inspiring other corporations, government agencies and Crowns to join us in advancing women entrepreneurs.

“SaskPower has received tremendous support on the expansion of our supplier diversity program to include women-owned businesses as well as the implementation of their tier-2 diverse spend reporting. These actions and others like them are being woven into our core strategy and processes at SaskPower and I expect that we will continue to advance.”
-Dan Irvine | Director Procurement & Contracts Management

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