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Swinburne x Jobsbank Research Project announcement: Moving the message of social procurement

May 24, 2022

Hakimah Shah, part of the Jobsbank-Tennis Australia employment partnership, works in one of the AO retail outlets at the Australian Open at Melbourne Park in Melbourne on January 26, 2022. MANDATORY PHOTO CREDIT Fiona Hamilton/TENNIS AUSTRALIA

Across all industries, what it means to do “good business” is changing.

Through a variety of actions, increasing numbers of Australian organisations are making real, tangible differences in the lives of those in our communities experiencing disadvantage.

It could be seeking out Aboriginal-owned businesses and disability services as part of your supply chain, or committing to more inclusive employment practices to ensure jobseekers with barriers can make a contribution through meaningful work.

And while there’s no doubt the social impact movement is growing, wholesale system change can be difficult to measure, and even more difficult to convey to wide audiences.

Are the organisations working to change their practices actually shifting mainstream business practices?

How are the concepts of social impact, diversity and inclusive employment understood by most Australian employers?

After groundbreaking work for the Victorian Government to change the conversation around representation at all levels for women in sport, Swinburne University School of Business’ Sport Innovation Group is turning its lens to social procurement, and these questions.

Social procurement is a broad term for the deliberate creation of social value through business spending, capturing both supply chain and employment practices.

In 2018, the Victorian Government introduced the Social Procurement Framework, a world-leading policy foundation that applies to all Victoria’s procurement activity and covers goods, services, and construction; embedding and promoting social and sustainable procurement objectives within government departments, agencies and major projects. The framework has created impetus both within government and beyond.

This research project dovetails with existing initiatives around the SPF, which seeks to ask businesses to demonstrate impact and communicate the importance placed on social value.

Leading Swinburne researchers Dr Nives Zubcevic-Basic, Dr Adam Karg and Associate Professor Eva Kyndt will monitor levels of engagement with the SPF to inform best-practice communication.

The research has been commissioned by Jobsbank, an independent not-for-profit working with employers and government to create connections that lead to social procurement and inclusive employment outcomes.

“This research will explore the understanding of social procurement by Victorian businesses and focus on uncovering media ‘appeals’ used around social procurement, diversity, and inclusion messaging. We hope to enhance understanding of how social procurement is adopted, explore the experiences of business engaged in social procurement practices, and examine the communications likely to stimulate further engagement” Dr Nives Zubcevic-Basic, Swinburne University of Technology.

Corinne Proske, CEO of Jobsbank, says “Our objective is simply to understand what works in the sector, what is best practice, and what we can use to leverage our impact. Are conversations changing around inclusive employment? And what does it take to engage all Australian businesses?”

Last year, Swinburne’s Sport Innovation Group delivered three relevant research projects: the Change our Game‘ initiative, for the Victorian Government office of Women and Sport, ‘Social Connection Infrastructure‘ on behalf of the Victorian Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, and ‘Employee Experience in Leisure Service Delivery‘, for Peninsula Leisure.

About Jobsbank

At Jobsbank we are passionate about inclusion and the difference it makes – not just to one person, but to teams and whole organisations. We believe in an Australia where everybody belongs. That’s why we’re helping to build more inclusive workplaces one business at time. Whether you have specific focus areas or you’re looking to achieve transformational change – our services are tailored to meet your specific needs and provides you with the insights and tools to deliver sustainable solutions.

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Jobsbank acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the Traditional Owners of the land on which we work. We pay our respects to their culture, their connections to Country and community, and to Elders past, present and emerging.