By Grace Austin

Supplier diversity is a key element of London 2012’s commitment to diversity. In 2008, Britain’s Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) explored procurement policies and practices in the London boroughs hosting the games. The EHRC concluded that significant attempts have been made to improve supplier diversity, but only a small number had actually won contracts. Since then, the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) issued a Diversity and Inclusion Business Charter to state its goals of supplier diversity at the games. According to the charter, “Our ambition is to deliver an Olympic Games for everyone.” Publicity, accessibility, and benchmarking are essential aspects of the charter’s business objectives. Through an online marketplace “CompeteFor,” businesses can register for opportunities, and a “Gold Standard Diversity Tool” will help benchmark diversity goals for participating businesses.

As David Noble of Britain’s CIPS (Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply) said in a March blog post, “LOCOG is actively encouraging contractors and suppliers to embrace diversity by making this a key element of their contract bids. The aim is to ensure that historically under-represented businesses, especially SMEs run by women, ethnic minorities, disabled or older people, have an equal opportunity to compete to supply goods and services to London 2012 as any other supplier.”

Indeed, Noble’s reference to SMEs (small and medium businesses) is a major aspect of supplier diversity at the Olympics. Currently, some diverse small businesses utilized at the Olympics include Welcome Gate, which provides pass production and visitor management systems to the Olympic site in Stratford; and Catering 2 Order, which provided catering services to the Olympic construction site in East London.

According to CompeteFor’s website, the diverse small businesses awarded contracts at the Olympics have benefited from “the possibility of further business opportunities beyond the 2012 Games.” CompeteFor not only identified contracts at the games, but recognized future business partners and available projects to the diverse companies. Being a supplier to the Olympic Games has also brought more publicity to the companies involved. Welcome Gate, a startup based in Southwark, London, helped channel their success into potential projects in the Middle East.

Additionally, supplier diversity organizations, like Minority Supplier Development UK (MSDUK) have established partnerships with LOCOG to help minority-owned businesses become part of the supply chain. Founded in 2006, MSDUK currently counts 38 companies, including Cisco, IBM, and Pfizer, as members. The MSDUK estimates there are 75,000 opportunities for these minority-owned businesses at the 2012 Games.