Companies bidding for contracts feel diversity information is being ignored

Companies bidding for contracts are increasingly being asked to prove their workforce diversity – and even that of their suppliers – but feel the information is being ignored, with contracts still being awarded on the basis of price.

Harish Bhayani, head of PRM Diversity Consultants, told Personnel Today that the use of diversity as a criteria for procurement was rising sharply. He said some contracts now required bidders to ensure the diversity of not only their employees, but also of those further down the supply chain.

PRM has been running workshops on supplier diversity to help employers meet the stringent new requirements. “Companies come to us and say they have 14 days to prepare a pre-bid diversity form, and need some guidance,” said Bhayani. “The most comprehensive [forms] ask for action plans to increase diversity in your organisation and your supply chain.”

But business groups have warned that many employers feel the data is being compiled for no reason, and Bhayani admitted he hadn’t seen a firm miss out on a contract due to poor diversity.

Susan Anderson, CBI director of HR policy, said: “Our members find that they are asked to bid on terms of how they are meeting diversity targets. They spend a lot of time and effort doing so, and then the cheapest bid is chosen. It is very disappointing and does nothing to encourage diversity.”

In March, Personnel Today revealed that IT giant Microsoft UK had stopped using a supplier on the grounds that it was “cavalier” towards the diversity of its workforce.

The Trevor Phillips-chaired Equalities Review recommended in February that a bidding company’s diversity policy should be a key factor in the awarding of public service contracts.


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