In today’s business landscape, supplier diversity has emerged as a powerful strategy for driving positive social change and enhancing procurement practices. By intentionally including suppliers from traditionally underrepresented groups, such as women-owned businesses, organisations can foster innovation, promote gender equality, and mitigate gender-related human rights risks in their supply chains. In this blog, we will delve into supplier diversity and explore how organisations can leverage subcontracts with women-owned businesses to empower them and create a more inclusive and resilient supply chain.

Understanding the Power of Supplier Diversity

Supplier diversity goes beyond a conventional procurement approach. It recognises the value of diverse perspectives, experiences, and expertise in driving business success and fostering a more inclusive society. Women-owned businesses represent a significant opportunity for organisations to make a tangible impact. Despite their potential, women entrepreneurs often face systemic barriers to accessing capital, contracts, and resources. By actively engaging women-owned businesses, organisations can contribute to their economic empowerment, job creation, and gender equality.

Leveraging Subcontracts for Gender Equality and Risk Mitigation in High-Risk Sectors

Many industries, particularly those operating in high-risk sectors, grapple with gender-related human rights risks within their supply chains. These risks can include gender-based violence, discrimination, and unequal opportunities. Integrating a gender lens into procurement practices and leveraging subcontracts with women-owned businesses enables organisations to address these risks proactively. In the context of supplier diversity, subcontracts refer to contracts awarded to suppliers by primary contractors who have secured the main contract with an organisation. Subcontracts provide a means for primary contractors to involve other businesses in fulfilling the main contract requirements.

Regarding supplier diversity, organisations can leverage subcontracts to intentionally award contracts to women-owned businesses. By doing so, organisations actively promote supplier diversity, empower women entrepreneurs, and contribute to the economic empowerment of underrepresented groups. This intentional engagement helps to create a more inclusive and resilient supply chain, driving positive social impact and contributing to a fairer and more equitable business environment.

The Benefits of Leveraging Subcontracts with Women-Owned Businesses

  1. Driving Economic Empowerment: Subcontracting women-owned businesses provides them access to new markets, resources, and networks. This, in turn, contributes to their economic empowerment, enables growth, and fosters sustainable development. Organisations can go beyond subcontracting opportunities by providing training and capacity-building support to women-owned businesses, helping them enhance their skills, expand their operations, and compete on an equal footing.
  2. Enhancing Supplier Diversity: By actively seeking and supporting women-owned businesses, organisations diversify their supply chain, tap into new sources of innovation and expertise, and foster a culture of inclusion and equality. This diversity of suppliers brings fresh perspectives, creative solutions, and a broader range of products and services, ultimately driving organisational success and competitiveness.
  3. Promoting Social Impact: Partnering with women-owned businesses showcases an organisation’s commitment to gender equality, responsible business practices, and social sustainability. It enhances the organisation’s reputation and strengthens stakeholder trust. By actively supporting women-owned businesses, organisations drive positive change, empower women, and promote a more equitable society.

How to Leverage Subcontracts with Women-Owned Businesses

  • Set Clear Goals and Targets: Organisations should establish measurable goals and targets for supplier diversity initiatives, including subcontracts with women-owned businesses. These objectives provide a framework for tracking progress and ensuring accountability. By defining specific targets, organisations can monitor their performance, celebrate successes, and identify areas for improvement.
  • Foster Supplier Development: Organisations can invest in capacity-building initiatives for women-owned businesses, offering mentorship, training, and access to resources that enhance their competitiveness and sustainability. These initiatives can include workshops on business management, financial literacy, and procurement processes. By providing support and guidance, organisations help women-owned businesses thrive and grow, strengthening the supply chain.
  • Implement Inclusive Procurement Policies: Developing policies and procedures that promote the inclusion of women-owned businesses in subcontracting opportunities is crucial. This includes incorporating gender-responsive criteria in supplier selection processes and ensuring equal access to bidding processes. Organisations can establish clear guidelines prioritising diversity and inclusion, enabling fair and transparent evaluation of supplier proposals.
  • Build Strong Relationships: Building trust and fostering collaboration with women-owned businesses is essential for successful subcontracting partnerships. Organisations can engage in networking events, mentorship programs, and supplier development initiatives to cultivate long-term relationships based on mutual respect and shared objectives. By creating a supportive ecosystem, organisations and women-owned businesses can learn from each other, exchange knowledge, and collectively drive positive change.


Supplier diversity allows organisations to promote gender equality, economic empowerment, and social sustainability. Leveraging subcontracts with women-owned businesses strengthens the supply chain and creates tangible benefits for women entrepreneurs. By actively engaging with women-owned businesses, organisations can drive positive change, mitigate gender-related human rights risks, and build a more inclusive and resilient supply chain. Embracing supplier diversity is a powerful step towards creating a more equitable business environment and contributing to a more prosperous society. With every subcontract awarded to a women-owned business, organisations take a significant stride towards a more diverse, inclusive, and gender-responsive procurement landscape.