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Businesses Owned by Women and Minority Groups Are a Dynamic Component of the Canadian Economy

Ottawa, September 21, 2017 – Despite the benefits of greater competitiveness, not enough Canadian businesses and government organizations are adopting supplier diversity practices that help women and minority-owned businesses gain access to larger organizational supply chains, according to a new Conference Board of Canada report. Diverse supply chains can help companies reduce costs, enhance innovation and develop new markets.

“Unfortunately, the benefits of diverse supply chains are not widely known in Canada and many women or minority-owned businesses have difficulty gaining access to the supply chains of leading Canadian businesses and government organizations,” says Ruth Wright, Director, Human Resources and Inclusive Talent Management Research, The Conference Board of Canada.

The value driven by inclusive employment practices is well understood by business. That diversity lens needs to be applied to all organizational processes so that inclusion becomes a mind set. Better access to the supply chains will create a win-win opportunity for both the supplier and the producer.


  • Businesses owned by women and minority groups are vital to Canada’s economic prosperity but have limited access to the supply chains of leading Canadian companies and government organizations.
  • Supplier diversity programs offer enterprises owned by women and minority groups the opportunity to grow through access to new and expanding supply chains.
  • These programs also enable corporations to build robust supply chains and increase their competitiveness. They are not social programs and do not compromise quality.

An organization’s supply chain includes all activities and processes related to providing goods and services to its customers such as production, manufacturing and retailing. A diverse supplier is a business that is at least 51 per cent owned, operated, and controlled by either women, members of either an Indigenous community or minority group or members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Supplier diversity programs offer businesses owned by women and minority groups the opportunity to grow through access to new and expanding supply chains.

Supplier diversity practices have been prevalent in the United States since the 1960s, yet their growth in Canada has been slow partly due to the lack of regulatory requirements for supplier diversity. A greater commitment to these programs by all levels of government and changes to procurement practices could help level the playing field and allow diverse businesses to compete with other established suppliers.

The report, The Business Case for Supplier Diversity in Canada, was prepared with support from Status of Women Canada.

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