How can your business affect people, places and the planet through your supply chain?

Wednesday 24th October saw Ashurst kindly host our final masterclass of the year highlighting ways our member businesses could act more responsibly when choosing how to spend their money, as well as tendering for other business. 15 members from both the Foundation and Advanced programme of 2018 joined us to hear three thought provoking and practical presentations, each followed by their own interactive Q&A session.

Simon Parham, Divisional Director of StructureTone, began by talking us through the difference that having a coherent responsible business strategy aligned to the company’s values and objectives has made when producing new proposals for tenders. He spoke in particular about the experience of tendering for the refit of the new Ashurst flagship office and how they built community, workplace, environmental and supply chain ethics into every stage. From setting aspirational and ambitious targets for sub-contractors (i.e. % of new apprentices taken on), to having local community partnerships with a social enterprise, to ensuring minimal packaging was used – every aspect of the project was considered through a responsible business lens. This is a great example of how the activities you have developed throughout Heart of the City’s programme can help you when seeking new business.

Rob McHugh, Procurement Manager from Skanska, spoke next.  He gave a broad overview of the work they undertake and why, as a large corporation who commission a huge amount of work from SMEs, responsible business credentials really do matter. Skanska want to work with companies that reflect their values and have found a range of ways to seek those out. They hold a competition  each year for their current or potential suppliers to showcase innovative projects they are working on – a recent winner of the Green Solution Award being a paint recycling project. They work closely with partners to reduce packaging, saving on waste and cost simultaneously and have even been part of setting up the Supply Chain Sustainability School – a virtual learning environment to help suppliers and subcontractors improve their sustainability knowledge and competence.

Last but not least, Jonathan Withey, Lead Sustainability Consultant for Commercial, talked through the difference that all businesses can make on their suppliers. He ran through a number of accreditations to look out for such as Certified Carbon Neutral companies, membership of the Ethical Trading Initiative and the Planet Mark. Jonathan also highlighted the need for customers to push their suppliers to show ethical and green credentials, which can make these a business priority. Thinking about how you receive products is also key, with Commercial eliminating cardboard boxes and excess packaging as far as possible from their deliveries. Jonathan highlighted Cool Earth Coffee, Belu Water and Terracycle as products with impressive environmental and social impacts. He challenged companies to identify their top five suppliers by spend and use Heart of the City resources to ask them some questions around reducing carbon emissions, increasing sustainability and generating social value. 

 Very many thanks to our speakers and members for joining us and making the workshop so great. Presentations are available on the members area of the website, where are comprehensive marketplace resources help you assess your supply chain and ask the pertinent questions.

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