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EQUIP Europe

Why an increasingly diverse Europe needs EQUality In Procurement for ethnic minority entrepreneurs.

The world’s first Covid vaccine was developed by BioNTech, a German biotechnology company founded and led by scientists of Turkish origin.

CEO Uğur Şahin was born in Turkey and moved to Germany as a child to live with his father, who was a “guest worker” in a car factory in Cologne.

His co-founder – and wife – Özlem Türeci, who is also the company’s chief medical officer, was born in Germany to Turkish doctor parents.

BioNTech’s $80 billion market capitalisation captures only a tiny fraction of the value of its vaccine: the many lives saved, the many serious illnesses averted and the many benefits of reopening economies and societies earlier and avoiding further lockdowns.

The contribution of Uğur Şahin and Özlem Türeci to the welfare of people in Germany, Europe and the world is monumental.

Overcoming disadvantage

Businesses led by ethnic-minority entrepreneurs make an ever bigger contribution to the EU.

In 2019, 7.8% of EU businesses with employees were owned by someone born outside the EU, up from 4.2% in 2010.

Yet for all their strengths, they tend to struggle with huge disadvantages, not least discrimination and disconnection from mainstream business networks.

Nearly three in five people in the EU say that discrimination on the basis of ethnic origin or skin colour is widespread in their country.

To promote equality, encourage integration and boost economic growth, Europe’s ethnic-minority entrepreneurs need help.

One important — but largely overlooked — way in which both public authorities and large businesses could help is by giving smaller companies, notably those led by people from ethnic minorities, more equal opportunities to win contracts to supply them.

And by doing so they would also reap the benefits of more diverse, resilient, innovative and cost-competitive supply chains.

The political, business and ethical case

This pioneering new OPEN report by Philippe Legrain and Martyn Fitzgerald sets out the political, business and ethical case for equality in procurement in Europe.

It explains how advancing what is known in the United States and elsewhere as supplier diversity requires adapting to European countries’ particular legal, cultural and business characteristics.

It identifies the countries in which conditions for inclusive procurement are most promising, while also setting out a framework for collective action at European level: EQUIP (EQUality In Procurement) Europe.

And it outlines options for how best to work with existing organisations and networks to move forward with equality in procurement, notably for ethnic-minority entrepreneurs.

EQUIP Europe was commissioned by MSDUK, a Leicester-based membership organisation that champions diversity and inclusion in public and private-sector supply chains, and sponsored by AstraZeneca, Bristol Myers Squibb, Facebook, GSK, and Johnson & Johnson.

Our message is simple. Minority businesses matter to Europe – and so does equality.

That’s why both public authorities and large corporates ought to do more  to ensure smaller ethnic-minority businesses have equal access to supply contracts.

It is not only the right thing to do; it would also benefit them.

Download the report.

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