Inclusive Sourcing: Good for Business and Good for Sustainable Development

On August 13th 2015, the UN Global Compact joined the International Trade Centre (ITC) for a webinar to explore the business case for inclusive sourcing and opportunities such as the Women Vendors Exhibition and Forum that facilitate the execution of business relationships between global supply chains and women entrepreneurs. inclusive sourcing

The discussion was grounded in Principle 5 of the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs), which encourages companies to expand their business relationships with women-enterprises. Speakers for the webinar included Juan Hoyosfrom the International Trade Centre and Gustavo Perez Berlanga, Vice President of Coporate Social Responsibility ofRestaurantes TOKS in Mexico.

Key take-Aways from the webinar: inclusive sourcing

  • The WEPs are a set of principles for businesses, offering guidance on how to empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community, the result of a collaboration between UN Women and the UN Global Compact. The WEPs seek to elaborate the gender dimension of coporate responsibility, and emphasize the business case for corporate action to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment The 5th Women Empowerment Principle gives a particular emphasis on enterprise development, supply chain and marketing practices that empower women.  inclusive sourcing good for business and good for sustainable development
  • The International Trade Center (ITC) is a joint agency of the UN and World Trade Organization. Based in Geneva, the ITC promotes supplier diversity and offers inclusive programs to promote responsible and sustainble supply chain management.

Juan Hoyos elaborated on the challenges faced by buyers when conducting inclusive sourcing, including finding quality suppliers, especially for SMEs, lack of innovative ways to develop and assist minority suppliers in acquiring skills, inability to access capital required to scale up and meet sourcing demands, and the lack of financial and physical resources by minority businesses in order to compete with large suppliers. However, among all, women entrepreneurs are especially challenged, and the figures below show, why it is extremely important to source from women-owned businesses:

  • Women-owned businessses represent 32-39% of all private businesses globally. Women do 66% of the world’s work, receive 10% of the income, and own 2% of the property. Women make over 70% of consumer purchasing decisions and impact over US$20 trillion in annnual global spend
  • Women represent 50% of the world’s population, but they are almost invisible in global value chain with just 1% spend on vendors by large corporations and governments
  • According to a World Bank research, women reinvest up to 90% of their earned income in their families and communities. Women are more likely than men to invest in their family, particularly in their children’s education and health. Paid-work for them means a multi-generational economic boost, as those children grow up to contribute to a more stronger and more skilled workforce. inclusive sourcing

Mr. Gustavo Perez Berlanga elaborated on a case study about Restaurantes TOKS, which started to source strawberry marmalade from women suppliers in Santa Rosa region and transformed the lives of women and children in the region. In return, TOKS restaurantes group also received increased revenue, created more competive and dynamic supply options, reduced costs and demonstrated ROI, enhanced brand image and loyalty, while also contributing to economic opportunity in larger markets. Companies have a unique opportunity to advance economic development through their supply chains by promoting human rights and offering equal opportunities for men and women. Inclusive sourcing policies and practices not only make good business sense but are they also consititute a key pillar of sustainable procurement.

On September 2-3, 2015, the ITC will host the Women Vendors Exhibition and Forum in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where 500 participants (women vendors, multinational corporations, policy makers, and Trade Support Institutions) will meet and colloborate through sectoral, B2B meetings and one-to-one meetings between women suppliers and buyers. inclusive sourcing

If you are interested in learning more about inclusive sourcing practices or opportunities to participate in the Women Vendors Exhibition and Forum, the premier event linking global supply chains with pre-selected and trained women entrepreneurs, please contact Global Compact Network Canada Program Manager Aparna Venkatachalam (, or UN Global Compact Women Empowerment coordinator Tulsi Byrne (

To access webinar recording, click here. inclusive sourcing good for business and good for sustainable development