The power of procurement: how to source from women-owned businesses

Corporate guide to gender-responsive procurement

Achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) relies on government, business and civil society collaboration. Gender equality and women’s empowerment is a core objective of the SDGs and is essential to sustainable global growth and development. One of the ways that we can work together now to deliver gender equality and women’s empowerment is by creating more opportunities for women business owners to access new markets.

As part of this effort, we created a guide specifically geared towards corporations to provide a deeper understanding of the barriers and challenges women-owned businesses face, and practical tools and techniques to help increase corporate sourcing from women-owned businesses through gender-responsive procurement.

With the support of citigroup and inputs from weconnect international

1 What is gender-responsive corporate procurement?

  • a.

    Gender-responsive corporate procurement refers to the integration of women-owned enterprises into value chains by promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment through purchasing policies and practices.

  • b.

    Gender-responsive corporate procurement refers to lowering standards so small businesses can more easily compete for contracts.

Correct Incorrect

Gender responsive-corporate procurement means promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment through purchasing policies, but it does not mean lowering standards!

To learn more check out the Executive Summary section!

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2 Why does gender-responsive corporate-procurement matter?

  • a.

    There is a clear business case for integrating women-owned businesses into corporate value chains.

  • b.

    Gender-responsive corporate procurement stimulates equal opportunities for women entrepreneurs, which supports the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

  • c.

    Both of the above.

Correct Incorrect

It is not only smart business to practice gender-responsive procurement, but there are also benefits for economic development.

To learn more check out the Why Gender Responsive Procurement Matters section.

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3 Which of the following is NOT a barrier women-owned businesses face in accessing corporate procurement?

  • a.

    Compared to men, women lack access to the financing they need to grow their businesses.

  • b.

    Because they have less exposure to male business networks, women are often not aware of procurement opportunities and policies and procedures.

  • c.

    The social and cultural expectation that women are primary caretakers of the family constrains the time they have available to devote to their business.

  • d.

    Most women-owned businesses do not operate in sectors where there is high demand from corporate buyers.

Correct Incorrect

Corporations procure many different types of goods and services, but they just need an in-depth understanding of their supplier base, and more complete information about ownership. Certifications can go a long way to help identify women-owned businesses in the marketplace. Corporate membership organizations such as WBENC in the U.S. and WEConnect International outside of the U.S. offer buyers access to certified women’s business enterprises.

Another challenge women-owned businesses face is that they lack access to finance. Often, they have less collateral to secure loans compared to men, and banks loans to women-owned businesses tend to be smaller.

Limited access to networks is another factor in the way of women’s participation in corporate procurement. Women-owned businesses often are not aware of procurement opportunities and procedures because they are underrepresented in business networks. One way companies can address this information gap is by facilitating networking opportunities for suppliers.

Additionally, balancing between owning a business and being responsible for a disproportionate share of family care-taking responsibilities constrains women business-owners.

To learn more about these and other challenges contributing to gender gaps in procurement check out the section Overcoming the Challenges Facing Women-Owned Business Enterprise section.

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4 Which of these are effective strategies for removing barriers for women-owned enterprises to access contracting opportunities?

  • a.

    Bundling multiple requirements into large contracts.

  • b.

    Streamlining application processes.

  • c.

    Awarding contracts based on price alone rather than value for money.

  • d.

    Providing feedback to bidders.

  • e.

    Hosting networking opportunities and workshops for suppliers.

  • f.

    b, d and e.

Correct Incorrect

Streamlining application processes, providing feedback to suppliers and sponsoring networking opportunities are all effective strategies for removing barriers facing women-owned enterprises. Building multiple requirements into large contracts and awarding contracts based on just price rather than value for money actually adds to the barriers women-owned businesses face.

To learn more, visit the section Strategic Sourcing on Supplier Development.

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5 Which of the following are examples of actions companies can take to develop a comprehensive gender-responsive procurement program?

  • a.

    Top level management support, including through the adoption of the Women’s Empowerment Principles.

  • b.

    Questionnaires or other techniques to encourage first-tier and lower level suppliers to adopt gender-responsive procurement programs.

  • c.

    Targets and goals on percentage of corporate procurement spend on women-owned businesses.

  • d.

    Join membership organizations that certify women’s business enterprises.

  • e.

    All of the above.

Correct Incorrect

All of these are examples of effective strategies in a comprehensive gender-responsive procurement program. A comprehensive gender-responsive procurement programs includes top-level management support, techniques to encourage prime suppliers and sub-contractors to adopt gender-responsive procurement programs and targets and goals on percentage of corporate procurement spend on women-owned businesses!

To learn more, visit the section on Building Corporate Capacity and Commitment.

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Here's some recommended reading:

Question

Recommended reading

1
- To learn more check out the executive summary section.
2
- Check out the business case and the development case sections.
3
- Challenges facing women-owned business
4
- Strategic sourcing on supplier development.
5
- Building corporate capacity and commitment.

Buy from women pledge

Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals requires actors in government, business and civil society and the United Nations to work together. Gender equality and women’s empowerment is a standalone Goal and critical throughout the other Goal. Corporations can help deliver gender equality and women’s empowerment by increasing procurement from women-owned businesses.

I recognize that gender-responsive corporate procurement can stimulate equal opportunities for women entrepreneurs and makes good business sense.

I am

Check all that apply.

  • A corporate employee
  • A women business owner
  • A member of a business association or trade union
  • A gender equality and women’s empowerment activist
  • A government employee
  • A UN employee
  • Other (Write in)
  • Country

I will take action by

Check all that apply.

  • Stepping up efforts to increase sourcing from women-owned businesses in my organization.
  • Sharing the guide with my network and encouraging them to learn more about gender-responsive procurement.
  • Learning more by participating in training offered by UN Women, Citi, WEConnect International and other partners.
  • Offering technical assistance and networking opportunities to women-owned businesses to support their access to procurement opportunities.
  • Joining membership organizations that certify women’s business enterprises.
  • Sign up to receive updates and opportunities from UN Women related to gender-responsive procurement.