Public AdministrationWritten evidence submitted by Stonewall (PROC 13)

Summary

1. Stonewall believes that, as part of the public procurement process, suppliers should be encouraged to improve their workplaces and services for lesbian, gay and bisexual people. This will:

improve the quality of goods and services;

lead to long-term cost savings; and

ensure compliance with equalities legislation.

Response

2. Stonewall is pleased to respond to the Select Committee’s inquiry into public procurement.

3. Stonewall is the leading organisation campaigning and lobbying for lesbian, gay and bisexual equality in Britain.

4. Stonewall’s work with over 600 employers, including many government departments, has demonstrated that embedding equality and diversity in the procurement process not only ensures compliance with the Equality Act 2010 but also leads to better and more cost-effective goods and services. Ensuring that services are outsourced to gay-friendly suppliers who understand the diversity of their customer base improves the quality of services. At the same time encouraging suppliers to make their own workplaces more gay-friendly means their own staff perform better and ultimately deliver more competitive and cost-effective goods and services.

5. Our work in this area has identified a number of proven practical methods of using the procurement process to advance equality for lesbian, gay and bisexual people. This includes asking questions about suppliers’ performance on equality and diversity at the tendering stage, providing guidance or training for suppliers on how to meet the equality requirements of tenders, and monitoring performance on equality and diversity commitments throughout the duration of contracts.

6. Stonewall recognises that requirements placed on suppliers should be proportionate to their size, since many small businesses may not have done any work to date on improving workplaces and services for lesbian, gay and bisexual people. All suppliers should however be able to demonstrate that they meet their legal requirement not to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation in employment and in the provision of goods and services.

7. Our guide for employers Procurement: embedding lesbian, gay and bisexual equality in the supply chain features practical recommendations and case studies from organisations that have demonstrated good practice in this area, including a number of central government departments and local authorities. The guide also features a number of case studies from the private sector. Rather than finding the process burdensome, these organisations are increasingly recognising the business benefits of incorporating equality considerations into the procurement process.

8. For further information regarding this response please contact:

The publication cited in this response is available to download free from http://www.stonewall.org.uk/at_work/research_and_guides/4907.asp.

January 2013

Prepared 18th July 2013