City Centre Mirror
If there's an excuse to be made about the lack of diversity in company supply chains, Mo Ettehadieh has probably heard it.
He's been told by companies that diverse suppliers don't speak English well enough, act too entitled and haven't earned the opportunity to be considered, to name a few reasons.
But Ettehadieh, CEO of construction consulting firm Mettko, says the "best" excuse he's heard from company execs slow to increase supplier diversity is that workforces are already diversified enough.
"Yes, but not in your leadership and not in your supply chain," said Ettehadieh to a small group of diverse business owners during the 2012 Canadian Supplier Diversity Conference in Toronto in late March.
Ettehadieh was part of an information session titled Infrastructures Opportunities (More than Bricks and Mortar), featuring a panel of private- and public-sector representatives presenting available procurement opportunities within their organizations.
He said Mettko, a firm of 30 employees, spends almost 14 per cent of its procurement budget on goods and services provided by diverse-owned business.
"We've got a bigger and better spectrum, whether it's a Korean guy who has done scheduling on a smelting plant in Brazil, or a Middle Eastern person who has built a high-rise in Dubai," said Ettehadieh.
Bill Zakarow spoke at length of the approximately $300 million in contracting and sub-contracting opportunities available to diverse suppliers due to the Toronto Pan American Games, from supplying 800 giant tents to manning cameras at all venues for the host broadcaster.
The Games are expected to cost $1.4 billion. The majority of the contracts will be awarded closer to the start of the Games in 2015, ranging in value from under $10,000 to more than $100,000, said Zakarow, the Games' head of procurement.
Larger bids would require companies to submit a request for proposal (RFP), which will be scored on a variety of factors, including diversity. Competitive pricing is not the sole criterion for winning a bid, he said.
"The last time the lowest priced bid was accepted by a government, cheap o-rings were bought for the Columbia and we all know how that turned out," said Zakarow, referring to the 2003 Columbia space shuttle disaster.
Zakarow said interested suppliers should register at the Games website at www.toronto2015.org to be eliglble for consideration.
Also making presentations on their organizations' procurement policies for diverse-owned businesses were Charles Varvarikos of RBC Procurement and Peter Wilson from Infrastructure Ontario. Dan Wright from the accounting firm MNP facilitated the session.
Foillowing the session, Chris Ashkewe, a roofer of Ojibway descent, said he was impressed with what he had learnt from the presenters.
"It definitely helps to hear from them," said Ashkewe.