Buyers urged to make supply chains more accessible to SMEs

April 25, 2013

“UK firms are being encouraged to make their supply chains open, fair and transparent and boost opportunities for UK SMEs to win contracts by signing a pledge,” according to a report.

Business In The Community (BITC), a unique charity which aims to improve communities with the help of businesses, is urging UK firms to commit to making their processes and procedures ‘more amenable to smaller companies.’

“Signatories to the ‘access pledge’ promise to make their business, fair and simple, transparent, on a level playing field, and open, for all suppliers,” explains Supply Management.

Matthew Lill, head of operations at Business In The Community, discussed the pledge at ProcureCon indirect last week and cited high levels of liability insurance as a common barrier to small firms.

“If you have a £25,000 contract, do you need to have £50 million of public liability insurance against it? Often that is not deliberate and has just been copied and pasted from another contract, but it immediately excludes SMEs,” he said.

Goldman Sachs is one company that has already taken action to make its processes and contracts more accessible and transparent. The investment bank has reduced the costs to SMEs of bidding by paying for the majority of vendor screening activity itself.

Other companies already cited by BITC include Asda, which is currently focusing on boosting the ethnic diversity of its supply chain, in addition to Santander, which has made all non-disclosure agreements valid for 12 months for any deal they bid for.

“Businesses can make the pledge by having their CEO or equivalent complete a short online form. Today the BITC confirmed to SM that construction firm Wates and ‘big four’ accountancy firm Deloitte have become the first two companies to make the pledge,” reports Supply Management.

Bob Thust, head of community investment, Deloitte, said: “We are delighted to be one of the first businesses to take the access pledge. SMEs bring speed, innovation and capabilities that are vital to our business.”