August 1, 2017
Last updated on June 12, 2018
CQ Cultural Consulting (CQ) is a Social Traders’ certified social enterprise that works to raise the awareness and impact of cultural diversity by offering training, consulting and research services to business and government.
CQ Manager, Safa Almarhoun, shares how Social Traders has opened new opportunities to expand and grow their consulting services with new clients in new industries.
- Who are some of the Social Traders buyer members you’re currently working with?
We have recently been approached by 3 multinational firms in the construction and engineering industry. These firms are bidding for road and general construction work for the Victorian Government for projects such as the Level Crossing Removal Program and the Ballarat Line Upgrade and others. Government is requiring these firms to comply with social procurement measures, indigenous employment and diversity, so they looked to CQ to partner with them to support them in meeting their diversity metrics.
Some of these firms have been successful in their bids and have contacted CQ to discuss how we would be able to support them to implement what they had promised to Government. Things move very quickly in the construction industry, so we agreed that we would provide part of their induction for all their staff in the next four months, before the end of the calendar year. This will include online learning modules and face to face training on diversity, cultural safety and awareness.
At a Social Traders’ event in May, I also met a couple of people from different construction companies, one of them has since reached out with an interest in conducting an applied research piece.
- What value is there in meeting the buyers face to face at Social Traders events?
It was great to meet the buyers, with them being able to hear what we do and ask us questions, it provided a great platform for face to face engagement. Some of the buyers may have a specific potential interest, and even if they don’t, their interest might spark a couple of weeks down the line and then they already know social enterprises in that area.
That’s how it worked for us, a buyer heard us and asked us questions, and then a couple of weeks later contacted us with an opportunity for collaboration.
- What role has Social Traders played in opening new opportunities?
With CQ, traditionally our main client base has been in Government (Local and State), and as we continue to grow and expand our market share, I have been quite selective with which private sector organisations to approach or work with.
However, when opportunities through Social Traders events came through, I realised that companies, particularly in the construction industry, are encouraged and sometimes required to work with social enterprises and other for purpose organisations by government’s social procurement measures. This allowed me to understand the drivers for this industry and the business case that I need to build in order to open up more doors for collaboration.
There is a lot of value coming out of our affiliation with Social Traders, and we’ve found a new, niche area through the Social Trader’s buyer members in the construction industry which I don’t think we would otherwise have picked up on.
- What impact have these contracts had on your business and internal skills building?
From a business development perspective, our government clients have a legislative mandate to have cultural diversity measures in place, but they’re wanting to do it and there’s a passion to do this.
Working with the construction industry has allowed me to understand what the drivers are in the industry. They are very business driven, so they know they have to do this and they want to find the best people to do it. But I’m also learning what their internal drivers are and how to find the people within these businesses who are passionate about it beyond the business measures but also the social measures of it.
I’ve had leadership positions in Government before, so I understand their drivers and I know who in the organisation to speak to, but I’ve never had someone in the construction industry work with us before and already, even just going to their offices, it’s a very different environment, they use very different language so it’s going to be a new experience.
Getting that understanding of how this industry operates and their processes has been really valuable, now that I understand it I’m able to navigate it much better and look at other construction firms that we’ll be able to collaborate with.
- If these contracts go ahead, what impact does that work have on generating outcomes and scaling your business?
We currently operate with one full time Manager, two Senior Consultants working full time on project management and implementation, then four consultants who work on a contract basis.
CQ is already experiencing rapid growth, so we will continue to hire more staff as some of this new work with firms in the construction industry is fully signed off. We will also potentially be looking at a new structure over the next 3-4 months to meet the demand in the market for our services.
CQ Cultural Consulting is a member of Social Traders’ certified community of social enterprises. Click here to find out more about Social Traders’ certification or click here for information on becoming a ST Connect buyer member.