The Business Council of Australia has cemented its commitment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses by pledging $3 billion to boost economic opportunities and participation.
The ‘Raising the Bar’ initiative will be designed to grow Indigenous businesses and will be delivered in partnership with Supply Nation.
Business Council CEO Jennifer Westacott said the Council wants to “build diverse Indigenous businesses” that can support their local communities by creating jobs and opportunities for them.
“This is game changing, businesses aren’t just creating economic value they’re helping build economic capacity in Indigenous businesses,” Ms Westacott said.
Supply Nation CEO Laura Berry said the Indigenous corporate sector is “growing exponentially.”
“Indigenous businesses face many of the same challenges as other businesses – but many are on a much steeper growth curve. Time invested working with Indigenous suppliers will help the sector scale effectively and multiply the overall capability and capacity gain,” Ms Berry said.
There are four key components to the ‘Raising the Bar’ framework:
- An Indigenous procurement target of 3 percent of annual influenceable spend over five years
- The supporting processes and systems to achieve this target
- Monitoring and reporting of spend against this target
- Activities to develop Indigenous suppliers.
Businesses participating in the new initiative will gradually increase their spending with Indigenous business suppliers, starting with a 0.5 percent target this year.
In the fifth year, the aim is to achieve the 3 percent target.
To support Business Council members who sign up to the program, the ‘Raising the Bar Playbook’ will be available to all participants.
The Playbook will contain information, policies and procedures to set and sustain new procurement targets of businesses.
Corporate heavyweights such as BHP, Rio Tinto, Fortescue Metals Group and BP are all participating in this new initiative, among others such as EY, the Commonwealth Bank, Qantas and KPMG.
President of BP Australia Andy Holmes has thrown his support behind the initiative.
“BP is committed to creating a thriving Indigenous business sector,” Mr Holmes said.
“We’re proud to set ourselves this ambitious target of three percent by 2023.”
The Commonwealth Bank’s Chief Procurement Officer Karen Sutton echoed similar sentiments.
“The Commonwealth Bank is excited to make this commitment, which we will drive hard to meet and exceed. It’s important that corporate Australia steps up to [the] challenge, even if it requires a degree of cultural change,” Ms Sutton said.