Tapping into Opportunity: The public sector

Contributed by

Caron Hawco,

Caron Hawco Group

Initially, a key focus of NLOWE’s supplier diversity project was Newfoundland and Labrador’s natural resource sector and improving female business participation in one of our province’s most important and profitable industries.

To increase awareness about the benefits of supplier diversity, we met with a number of community and business leaders. Interestingly, we were often asked: “How many women-owned businesses are providing services and supplies to the province’s public sector?”
Public sector institutions such as Nalcor Energy, Memorial University, and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador are some of the largest purchasers of goods and services in the province. Considering that most women-owned businesses are service oriented, these businesses would be a good fit for the public sector.

While the number of women-owned businesses supplying the public sector is not being tracked, based on our marketplace knowledge, it is safe to say there is room for growth. However, as in the natural resources sector, institutional procurement practices could be adjusted so women-owned businesses are better positioned to compete.

NLOWE has had many constructive and positive conversations with both business and government leaders, encouraging them to increase the diversity of their suppliers. Some of these discussions included a meeting with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador on their new procurement legislation. We met with Dr. Gary Kachanoski, President and Vice-Chancellor of Memorial University regarding the university’s purchasing practices. We will be sharing more information about our progress in future issues of The NLOWE Advisor.

If you attended our Women’s Economic Forum in St. John’s this past November, you will recall that Jim Keating, Nalcor Energy Executive Vice President, Corporate Services and Offshore Development, committed to working with NLOWE to increase the number of women-owned businesses working with the crown corporation. It’s encouraging to see one of our province’s largest procurers and corporate leaders step up to be a champion and role model to drive change.

Since last year, Nalcor Energy and NLOWE have discussed how best to support Nalcor Energy’s diversity commitments and to encourage business access for companies that are majority owned and operated by designated groups, such as women-owned businesses.
Recently, NLOWE held a workshop with Nalcor Energy’s Supply Chain Team, raising awareness about best practices and offering strategies to open opportunities to women-owned businesses. Nalcor Energy and NLOWE also co-hosted an information session to connect Nalcor Energy’s procurement team to interested NLOWE members.

Many women business owners have told us that they do not understand procurement practices or how to prepare bids and compete for business. To address this information gap, NLOWE will be offering workshops and support information to educate and strengthen your business development skills. To kick off the year, for instance, Chris Spurvey, author of It’s Time to Sell and VP of Business Development at KPMG, delivered an informative workshop, offering insight on how to achieve more sales by building your personal and business brand. This workshop was the first session of our Business-to-Business Bootcamp series, designed to help you prepare your business to leverage supply chain and business-to-business opportunities as they become available. I encourage you to take advantage of these great learning opportunities and register for upcoming sessions by visiting www.nlowe.org/events.

I encourage you to register with NLOWE’s supplier diversity database, www.supplierdiversitynl.com, so businesses seeking out services and supplies can learn about your business. Please take the time to visit our website to ensure purchasers know about you and your offerings and have easy access to your unique, professional, value-driven business.

Specializing in offshore oil and gas and natural resources, Caron Hawco owns and operates the Caron Hawco Group, a consultancy supporting local, national, and international companies interested in pursuing opportunities and managing their business in Atlantic Canada. With over 20+ years industry experience, as an employee (Statoil), an industry consultant (oil and gas, mining, supply chain, industry associations) and an industry leader (former Chair of noia), Caron has a well established network. She offers expertise in stakeholder management, business development, communications, industrial benefits/regulatory affairs, negotiation, public engagement, public affairs, government relations and facilitation. Caron Hawco is available to answer NLOWE members if they have questions relating to the industry. She can be reached via email at chawco@nlowe.org.

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