Oct. 2 (UPI) -- BAE Systems Australia will support the development and creation of Indigenous defense companies if it is chosen to build new Navy frigates.
BAE said it will support as many as 20 new firms and is already working with the Indigenous Defense Consortium to identify opportunities for existing businesses to develop technical capabilities required for Australia's SEA 5000 program, among other programs that could be developed.
"We recognize that diversity and inclusion is good business sense," BAE Systems Chief Executive Glynn Phillips said in a news release. "It encourages our employees to embrace difference, brings people from all walks of life together, facilitates creativity and helps to ensure we continue to offer innovative solutions for our customers."
"As a defense industry leader, we need to lead the way in engaging with Indigenous suppliers."
The Sea 5000 program is for the building of nine frigates in the city of Adelaide to replace the Royal Australian Navy's Anzac-class frigates.
BAE Systems has also committed to work with industry and Indigenous leaders on a tailored apprenticeship program to grow its Indigenous workforce as part of the company's recruitment strategy and early careers development program. The company already maintains a strategic relationship agreement with the IDC to provide opportunities for Indigenous suppliers to become part of BAE's supply chain.
"Working with BAE Systems to develop new companies with technical capabilities will ensure that the businesses established will be enduring, building the capacity of the Indigenous Business sector which will result in far reaching benefits for Indigenous Australians and their communities," said IDC Chief Executive Adam Goodes.