July 1, 2020
Last updated on October 22, 2020
A mandated 1% sustainable procurement target on all Government contracts would create thousands of jobs for disadvantaged Australians, according to Australia’s leading social enterprise body.
With national unemployment at a 22-year high, Social Traders says sustainable recruitment – the buying of goods or services from businesses who reinvest profits back into community initiatives – has the potential to “supercharge” employment growth in low income communities and has called for mandatory targets.
Financial modelling indicates that a 1% sustainable procurement target for Australia’s $265 billion infrastructure pipeline over the next five years would create over 9,000 jobs for the most vulnerable people at risk of long-term unemployment.
The call is supported by fresh research that indicates 75% of social enterprises have the capacity to increase their social impact – but that growth is only realistic with the right policy and Government-mandated procurement targets.
Social Traders Managing Director David Brookes said that the social enterprise sector was a ready-made solution to getting the most vulnerable people in our communities back into jobs and so mechanisms to support growth were critical in the recovery from COVID-19.
“In the two years prior to the pandemic, the Social Traders marketplace enabled the creation of more than 700 jobs for people from disadvantaged communities, through $105 million worth of trade with private business and Government agencies.
“So we know that social enterprise has a unique capacity to provide employment pathways for people facing barriers to employment, which is going to be critical given the unemployment challenge created by the pandemic,” Mr Brookes said.
“Embedding social enterprise into supply chains is a proven solution to long-term unemployment that uses sustainable market activity and frees up Government resources that are needed elsewhere
“Committing a portion of Government procurement spending will supercharge social enterprises to create the right jobs for the most at-risk.
“Corporate procurement in Australia is worth approximately AUD$450 billion. Crucially, for every AUD$100,000 spent on social procurement, 1.5 jobs are created for disadvantaged Australians.
“In recent years we’ve seen states and governments make commitments on social enterprise spending, but we need a lot more certainty if we’re going to make a difference in the unemployment battle.
Property developer Mirvac is one of a small number of Australian corporates who have committed to sustainable procurement, setting $1 million target by 2030.
Sustainability Manager Sarah Clarke said that sustainable procurement “makes businesses sense”.
“We’re spending money on products and services that we require with businesses that are helping us achieve our positive legacy”, Ms Clarke said.
“Before the COVID-19, we were already starting to see a growing interest in ESG issues, particularly from our investors, and this interest has only increased during the pandemic,” Ms Clarke said.
“It’s shone a spotlight on issues such as climate change, and has shown us that, collectively, we can work together to have a meaningful impact on a wider scale.
“It’s also highlighted community and social connections. Being forced to be apart has made us all realise the value of human connections, and how important it is to help each other in times of crisis.
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