Marketplace Impact May 2023 Event Recap

Jun 5th, 2023

Marketplace Impact: A National Conversation on Social Procurement successfully shared insights on social procurement while fostering dialogue between engaged community members and purchasers from across Canada. Participants got to engage in community discussion and networking in between sessions that highlighted the impactful work of Federal, municipal and corporate purchasers.

During the event Buy Social Canada launched a report, Buy with Impact: Social Procurement in Canada 2022 Report, and a new resource, the Guide to Social Procurement for Tourism, Hospitality and Events.

Miss the event? View the session recordings to relive the highlights.

This was part one of a two-part event series we’re hosting exploring what’s happening in both the supply and demand sides of the Canadian social value marketplace. Stay tuned for details about part two in September 2023, which will focus on social enterprises.

Key takeaways

Formalize goals with targets

In both the public and private sectors, organizations are setting targets for a level of social or Indigenous procurement they want to reach. For example, the Federal Government has set a mandatory target where 5% of federal contracts will be awarded to businesses managed and led by Indigenous Peoples. As part of their social procurement initiatives, Chandos Construction committed to shift at least five percent of their addressable spend to social enterprises, diverse-owned businesses, and other impact organizations by 2025.

Move from risk aversion to risk tolerance

Speakers highlighted the importance of moving away from risk aversion to find risk tolerance – especially when risk aversion is inadvertently creating greater barriers to inclusion and participation for the very people you’re trying to create opportunities for through social procurement programs. Some amount of risk is almost always inevitable, but it’s important to find a level of risk that you can accept in order to create change.

Innovate to advance the movement

Whether it’s about increasing supply chain diversity or developing new strategies for measurement and reporting, purchasers often find themselves needing to innovate to create the change they want to see. Chandos Construction did this by creating new software, while City of Edmonton was willing to redesign their policy to meet their updated goals. AnchorTO is researching and testing different supplier verification models, and Indigenous Services Canada is exploring various ways to engage and contract Indigenous suppliers.

Don’t forget organizational culture

While implementing social procurement does involve policies and administrative work, it’s important not to lose sight of organizational culture. Speakers highlighted how, in addition to making policy or process changes, they were still focussed on integrating changes into culture through meetings and organizational conversations.

Wisdom from speakers

“We acknowledge that to do better we need to challenge ourselves and the system, and this can only be done by co-creating it with our community.”

— Hanifa Kassam, City of Toronto / AnchorTO

“We want tax dollars to be spent efficiently and well, with this comes a regulatory framework and risk tolerance. We need to acknowledge our tolerance has to work both ways. The more we embrace these practices the better we will get at them.”

— Dolores Coelho, Indigenous Services Canada

“Take inventory of the systems you already have in place and what you can do to take advantage of those before investing in something for measurement that takes a lot of money and resources. Before investing, you also need to make sure whatever it is you’re tracking is meaningful.”

— Hieu Lam, City of Edmonton

“Know your limitations, and bring the right voices to the table. You need to have the right external and internal partners.”

— Nicole Monaco, Chandos Construction

Celebrating Educators and Agitators

At this event, we also celebrated three Social Procurement Champion Award winners who are educating and agitating across Canada. Learn more about this year’s Social Procurement Champion Award winners.

“Social procurement is the way of the future in a people centred and sustainable economy.”

Momentum, Calgary

“Collaboration has been key to our success, and we’ve been able to change the conversation here in Winnipeg.”

We Want to Work, Winnipeg

“Social procurement is a critical component of an economy of care.”

Centre for Social Enterprise at Memorial University, Saint John’s

Thank you to everyone who joined us and participated in discussions. As We Want to Work highlighted, collaboration is a central component of social procurement, and the many achievements and stories showcased at this event would not be possible without so many of you contributing to the momentum we’re seeing across Canada. We look forward to continued collaboration in coming months.

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