E:diversesupplychains@aston.ac.uk T: +44(0)121 204 4321

Moving Supplier Diversity Forward

Propelling small firms from diverse communities into the supply chains of large organisations in the public and private sector helps to promote inclusion and innovation. This is what Aston Business School’s Diverse Supply Chain (DSC) initiative aims to achieve, backed by 20 years of research and policy experimentation by the Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship (CREME). But what is the DSC? What makes it different? And how will businesses benefit?

What is the DSC?

This DSC is an innovative three-year programme that provides that small businesses from diverse backgrounds[1] with the support they need to take advantage of opportunities arising from HS2. Balfour Beatty Vinci, Birmingham City Council and NatWest are amongst the organisations that will work closely with specialists from ABS to help firms become ‘fit to supply’, and thus able to bid for contracts from HS2.  

Why is the DSC different?

Many initiatives, institutions and intermediaries are in the business of promoting supply chain opportunities to ‘underrepresented’ groups. Supplier sustainability expert Liz Holford has documented several in an important article. But the DSC is different because:

–      It applies insights from research and policy experimentation. CREME has a 20 year track record of research and practical activity on supplier diversity. This has produced academic publications, a Handbook on Supplier Diversity in Europe, and a groundbreaking project that led to the creation of Minority Supplier Development UK

 –      Buyers, suppliers and researchers will ‘co-produce’ the initiative. Support programmes are too often ‘top down’ and removed from the concerns of businesses. The DSC avoids this by bringing together buyers, subject experts and small business owners. They’ll work together to develop solutions tailored to their situation.

 –      Diversity in a variety of forms is recognised. Diversity is complex. People can suffer from multiple sources of disadvantage including their race, gender identity, sexual orientation. The DSC follows this intersectional stance and is open to business owners from all these groups. 

How will businesses benefit?

Participating firms will benefit from:

·               Best-practice procurement guidance from Balbour Beatty Vinci, Birmingham City Council, HS2 and NatWest

·               Bespoke business support, including specialist workshops, one-to-one consultancy, and grants

·               CREME and ABS’s extensive expertise and reach into networks that can provide access to further opportunities for local firms

Buyers from large organisations will also benefit from finding suppliers from a range of previously overlooked communities.

CREME’s mission is to ‘make diversity and enterprise everyone’s business’. The DSC is the latest in a long line of ventures that pursue this agenda. We’re look forward to working with you.

Monder Ram

Director, Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship






[1] The project is aimed at minority owned businesses i.e. those owned and managed by women (particularly women with children), people with limiting disabilities, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) people, ethnic minorities and young entrepreneurs. A business is eligible for the project if one or more of the directors of the company is from one of the specified groups (ideally the project seeks to work with businesses which have a majority director representation from within these groups). All businesses will be located in Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership area.