18 Feb 2022

I work at Global Workplace Solutions (GWS) which is a division of CBRE, the world’s largest commercial real estate services and investment company. GWS delivers end-to-end services to occupier clients of all sizes across the globe, including industry-leading facilities management services. 

Our Supplier Diversity Program is a business commitment to mentor, develop and integrate diverse suppliers into the provisioning of products and services for CBRE or our clients.

We engage with organisations that can help us identify and work with certified diverse suppliers. For example, we are a corporate member of the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC); the Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC); the National Veterans Business Development Council (NVBDC); the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) and Minority Supplier Development United Kingdom (MSDUK).

CBRE was ranked the top real estate brand for nineteen consecutive years, and we were also named the World's most ethical company for the 7th year running in 2020; that's something we work hard to achieve and we are immensely  proud of.

Diversity matters
Our vision as a business is to set a targets for diversity and inclusion. We recognise that diversity needs to be at the heart of our purchasing decisions. Our partnership with MSDUK is a crucial foundation in driving a fairer and more equitable society, in line with our corporate goals. It is the golden thread through our business, both for our internal teams and our UK and Global business arms. 

We want to offer solutions to our clients that look beyond service delivery and commerciality and offer something more, an opportunity to make a difference and deliver social impact.  

To do this, in 2020, CBRE announced a pledge to spend at least $1 billion with diverse suppliers in 2021 and to grow this spend to at least $3 billion in five years. By achieving these goals, CBRE will substantially increase its engagement and partnerships with certified businesses as owned by underrepresented groups, including minorities, Indigenous people, women, veterans, LGBTQ+ and individuals with disabilities. CBRE defines a diverse supplier as a supplier at least 51% owned, operated, and managed by an underrepresented group.
Many of our clients are now looking to CBRE to support them in their supplier diversity journeys and share our learnings and best practices. 

Starting point
We have worked with MDSUK to analyse our existing supply chains to see how diverse and inclusive they were and to highlight our existing diverse spending. Once we knew our starting point, it was then that we could set new and aspirational targets. We are now working with MSDUK to look at our critical categories of work to assess where we can have the most significant impact and identify new diverse partners.

A helping hand
As a vast corporate and global brand, we know that our onboarding systems for new suppliers are complex. This can be tricky for diverse suppliers, who are often smaller businesses, to navigate. 

We aim to work with these businesses and understand the barriers to entry to join our supply chain. Often it can be the size of the order or the insurance requirements, and it is these areas that we are working to understand. For some, it's the payment terms; as a smaller business, they can't wait 60 days, so we work with them to review payment terms that suit both parties.

We are working closely with these suppliers to understand how we can help them, hold their hands, if you will, through the onboarding process. For example, one business we worked with offered cleaning services, but the requirements of our bidding process were tricky. Showing our commitment to diverse suppliers, we worked with them closely through the bidding process, and they ultimately won the contract. 

Levelling the playing field
One benefit from diversifying our supply chain is that we have seen it drive up competition in our existing supply chain. Another benefit is that existing suppliers are reassessing their diversity and inclusion activities. 
Our clients are now placing significant weight on diversity, inclusion, and sustainability, and if we can't offer that, they will go elsewhere.  Businesses today must look at levelling the playing field and looking at other softer factors; it's not just looking at price and activity.  We must look at how we can work with smaller diverse suppliers.  For example, we  have started to look at how we source services, considering splitting opportunities down into smaller more manageable projects that open the door to our diverse supply chain.

Next steps
MSDUK has undoubtedly helped us grow diversity within our supply chain. For example, excluding SMEs, our spending with diverse (including minority-owned) companies in our supply chain grew 325% in the last 12 months, which is fantastic.

Looking forward, we want to be in a position to offer diverse options in all our core categories, for example, mechanical, electrical, cleaning. We want to support and develop suppliers through a diverse supplier development programme, helping us to fill the current gaps in our diverse supply chain and also help our diverse suppliers compete with our Tier 1 supply chain.  The aim is to help them expand and grow their business within CBRE. 
If you are thinking of signing up to MSDUK
MSDUK offer a significant range of engagement events with diverse companies and have cemented our thoughts about the best way to raise awareness of our diversity programme.

For suppliers, it is about being patient with larger corporates. It can take 12 months before you could be invited to bid, then you might not win. But with MSDUK opening your eyes, you will know that you need to push to get feedback as to why you did not win and what you need to improve on; you can adjust or ask the corporate for help. Then you will understand what corporates need; it is often simple things that you may have missed in your tender or some paperwork you don't have.  

Talk to us; it is in our interest to help diverse businesses as we need you in our supply chains.  But whether you are a corporate or a supplier, if you're looking to improve diversity in your supply chain, I'm sure MSDUK can help your business.

Gemma Lindley, Head of Supplier Engagement CBRE | GWS