Study to shine light on obstacles for Indigenous suppliers
A collaboration between UTS Business School and Supply Nation – Australia’s leader in supplier diversity – will investigate barriers to effective partnerships between Indigenous businesses and their corporate and government buyers.
The collaboration, which will include an online survey, aims to gain insight into “pain points” that may affect Indigenous businesses in their dealings with large corporate and government organisations.
“The survey will provide a greater understanding of the costs for Indigenous suppliers doing business with major corporations, which should support the development of more effective supplier diversity initiatives,” says lead researcher Dean Jarrett, of the University of Technology Sydney (UTS).
“For Indigenous suppliers, these costs include not only the business costs but the very personal costs of doing business in an environment where cultural and racial bias may be present,” he says.
Supply Nation, which has had critical input into the survey, says the results of the research will feed into policy and its own work in connecting suppliers and buyers. “We envisage that the findings will give our suppliers a voice and help improve strategic partnership development between our suppliers and members,” CEO Laura Berry says.
The findings will give our suppliers a voice and help improve strategic partnership development
Jarrett, a 2015 Fulbright Scholar and UTS Business PhD candidate, says the nature of relationships between Indigenous suppliers and their large corporate and government customers has been significantly under-researched. This is despite considerable growth in the number and size of Indigenous-owned companies providing goods and services to large organisations.
Often, such goods and services are procured as part of an organisation’s commitment to “supplier diversity” – a strategic business process that aims to provide companies owned by Indigenous peoples and minorities an equal opportunity to become suppliers to major corporations.
But Jarrett’s early research suggests that despite extensive organisational commitment to supplier diversity, articulated in a range of internal policies and procedures, a number of key factors can still undermine the realisation of strong and effective partnerships. These include an uneven distribution of power, substandard levels of trust and a problematic approach to culturally appropriate behaviours.
“I started to notice these consistent themes emerging while interviewing numerous Indigenous businesses here in Australia, along with Native American businesses in the US,” Jarrett says.
Jarrett was the recipient of the 2015 Fulbright Indigenous Postgraduate Scholarship, which helped to fund research in the United States. He spent almost 12 months at the University of Arizona, where he worked alongside Native American academics and business owners researching the relational factors that underpin economic transactions between Indigenous suppliers and corporate and government buyers.
For more information, or to take part in the survey, contact Dean Jarrett.