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Social impact through suppliers

22 August 2014

Westpac Group recently launched enhanced sustainability requirements for the largest of its 30,000+ suppliers, with the aim of embedding sustainable practices more deeply into procurement processes.

The new framework reaffirms Westpac’s leadership in sustainable procurement, having been the first bank in Australia to launch a sustainable supply chain management framework in 2004.

Head of Group Sustainability & Community, Siobhan Toohill, said the enhanced framework would lead to even closer working relationships with suppliers.

“With such a large supply chain, we have a great opportunity to encourage suppliers to have a shared sustainability agenda and create outcomes that make good, long term business sense,” she said.

“We’ve seen first-hand that our commitment to sustainable supply chain management has inspired many of our suppliers to further develop their own sustainability programs.

“This contributes not only to a more resilient supply chain, but also helps to create greater social impact in the communities in which we live and work,” she said.

In addition to the new requirements for top suppliers, the framework promotes opportunities for Westpac Group to support and invest in traditionally marginalised or underrepresented business groups, such as Indigenous businesses.

For example, among the commitments outlined in its Reconciliation Action Plan launched today, Westpac Group has committed to increase its spend on Indigenous suppliers to $3 million and embed at least 10 Indigenous owned businesses in its supply chain.   

The aim to increase the diversity of the supply chain offers many potential benefits, including:

  • Opportunities to better align our values and purpose with our suppliers’ - through social procurement spend as well as shared giving and collaboration;
  • Better understanding, supporting and reflecting our diverse customer base and the business community in which we operate;
  • Helping us to access and grow new markets, new customers, and new talent in diverse communities; and
  • Contributing to a more resilient supply chain, economic wellbeing, employment, financial inclusion and innovation in the communities in which we live and work.

One inspiring Indigenous owned businesses Westpac Group already engages in its supply chain is telecommunication services provider Message Stick. 

Message Stick

Message Stick is one of Australia’s most successful Indigenous companies, and CEO Michael McLeod hopes it inspires other Indigenous entrepreneurs. One of Message Stick’s stated objectives is to help make the first three decades of the century a transformative time for Indigenous business and economic participation.

It was with this goal in mind that Michael and business partner Dug Russell formed Supply Nation, which currently has 276 certified suppliers, and 144 corporate members – companies and government agencies seeking to diversify their supply chain by working with Indigenous businesses.

Michael believes increasing these numbers will make a tangible and lasting difference to Indigenous people and communities throughout Australia.

“In five years’ time, the future I want to see is 2,000 corporate members and 5,000 certified Indigenous suppliers, with a procurement dollar flow of $1-2 billion,” he says.

“That would be a game changer, it would have a positive effect on Aboriginal people around the country, it would increase participation in the Australian economy.”

Over the past few years, Michael has seen an increasing interest in working with Indigenous suppliers.

Michael says the support of corporations such as Westpac will be crucial in further increasing the number of Indigenous suppliers dealing with Australian corporations.

“Westpac has been in this space for a long while, helping with issues like financial literacy, and has been very quick to engage with Indigenous suppliers,” he says.

“It’s so important for big corporates to take on the challenge, to show that it’s not actually that hard to have a diverse supply chain.

“When you have a corporation which sees the importance of supporting Indigenous suppliers, and when that drive goes all the way to the top as it does with Westpac, that makes a huge difference I getting other companies involved.”