Firms warned to develop diversity policies after Microsoft ditches supplier

Employers have again been warned to tighten their diversity practices after it emerged that Microsoft UK stopped using a supplier due to its poor policy on the issue.

Dave Gartenberg, HR director at Microsoft UK, told Personnel Today that the global IT firm was increasingly looking at its suppliers’ diversity policies.

“In one case, we changed provider because they were cavalier towards the topic,” he said. “They were supplying a perfectly good service, but we stopped using them.”

Microsoft’s UK arm is learning from its experiences in the US, where many private companies insist on good diversity policies from their suppliers.

“We just think it is the responsible thing to do,” Gartenberg said.

The decision follows moves by Barclays last year to request diversity statistics from its legal advisers as part of its corporate social responsibility policy.

The Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS) confirmed that private firms were now increasingly insisting on good diversity practices from their suppliers.

CIPS director of marketing Brian Ford told Personnel Today: “It is a growing trend for suppliers to be asked for their diversity policies. We have seen this grow over the past few months and we can’t see that changing. It would be sensible for employers to put policies in place so they can’t be caught out.”

The Institute of Business Ethics (IBE) agreed that private firms were increasingly looking at the make-up of the companies they do business with.

Simon Webley, research director at the IBE, said: “More than 200 of the FTSE 350 companies now have codes of ethics. These include core values of the company, and diversity is beginning to appear on these plans.”

The Equalities Review last month recommended that a company’s diversity policies should be a key factor when awarding public service contracts.

But business groups have long insisted that contracts should be awarded on value for money, rather than diversity policies.

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