Supplier diversity in France


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About the project Edit

« L’Agence pour la Diversité Entrepreneuriale » (Adive) has put in place a supplier diversity program – named “Achats & Diversité” in French – with a view to improving ties between the corporate world and the world of minority owned-entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs whose activity is located in a disadvantaged area (as specified by the French government).

The first supplier diversity initiative was created in the early 1970s in the USA to address ethnic minority entrepreneurs’ issues. Then, it expanded to include other minorities (women, veterans, disabled people…).

In what ways is this project unique and creative? Edit

Adive was created in 2008 as a non-profit organisation. The objective of the venture is to provide to both minority owned-entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs whose activity is based in disadvantaged areas benefits from partnerships with large corporates. The two main benefits expected are an increase in business opportunities and an expanding networking.

The central value of Adive is affirmative action: economical and territorial inclusion of Adive’s qualified entrepreneurs. Supplier diversity programs are omnipresent in the US, though Adive’s approach is different from these programs as in France – and in Europe – there is no legal obligation for corporate partners to contract with small entrepreneurs, disadvantaged or minority owned-entrepreneurs. This element is fundamental with regards to Adive’s core activity: in the US, there was – and there is – a legal pressure that has explained the implementation of supplier diversity programs in the private sector. Contrary to the US, in France there isn’t such a mandatory obligation. Consequently, Adive’s daily action aims to have an impact on policies regarding diversity issues. This entails a bottom-up approach; Adive’s activity might hold sway over institutional system at the long term.

What is the social value of this project? Edit

Adive’s inclusive approach has two mains targets: entrepreneurs and buyers/procurement officers of corporate partners. Adive is currently working with five CORPORATE PARTNERS and has qualified more than two hundred entrepreneurs so far. Adive aims to provide opportunities to these entrepreneurs for their enterprises to grow and expand and to break the vicious circle that occur in the life cycle of these enterprises. Another issue is the network of the entrepreneurs: they are not in contact with corporations that can provide them with large contracts.

In addition, as part of its strategy to deepen ties between Corporations and its entrepreneurs, Adive organises events on a regular basis. Adive organises “breakfast meetings” between a corporate partner and entrepreneurs in the domain demanded by the partner in order to match their needs. At the same time, Adive is starting new events, such as field trips organised for corporate buyers where they can meet entrepreneurs in their office. This initiative has been set up for the first time the 8th of April, 2010. Adive also will launch the first “meet the buyers” meeting based on sustainable procurement.

Adive’s impact: The « zones politiques de la ville » are urban zones designated as disadvantaged by the French government. One of the remarkable facts of these areas is the relatively large entrepreneurial activity present in these zones. However these enterprises exhibit a relatively low survival rate and if they survive, they face difficulties in increasing in size. One of the factors playing a role is the limited business opportunities in these areas, and mainly the limited opportunity to acquire large contracts. Even if large companies are present in proximity, these companies are often not in contact with the local entrepreneurs.

What is the potential of this project to expand and develop? Edit

The objective of Adive is to put in place a systemic change in disadvantaged areas as well as to have a profound impact on mindsets in regards to diversity issues. Indeed, the program aims to be a good illustration of what Michael Porter found out in his article* about what might appear as a paradox: competitive advantages of disadvantaged areas. Porter highlighted that “Inner cities are located in what should be economically valuable areas “ and disadvantaged areas in France share … the same problematic: Aulnay-Sous-Bois (30% of the city’s population live in a “zone politique de la ville” area) is at 19kms from the historical center of Paris - Notre Dame de Paris - and is between Paris and Le Bourget (business airport) and is at only 5 kms of the most important airport in France: Paris Charles de Gaulle. Moreover, to Porter, « The most exciting prospects for the future of inner city economic development lie in capitalizing on nearby regional clusters ». This is exactly the same challenge in France: Seine-St-Denis has a very High rate of disadvantaged areas as well as plenty of entrepreneurs with a diversity background, and at the same time, really good competitive advantages. For instance, Corporations are located in these areas or even provide jobs in the department (BNP-Paribas is the first private provider of jobs in the department).
Beyond, Adive will expand its activity all around France in the months to come; at the same time, Adive will implement its inclusive approach to other targets: “women entrepreneurs” and enterprises hiring a majority of disabled people.

What was the triggering factor of this project? Edit

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