Salterbaxter - Directions Supplement - Avoid the Low Hanging Fruit


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Why tough choices are needed if companies want their supply chain strategies to be genuinely fruitful.

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Salterbaxter - Directions Supplement - Avoid the Low Hanging Fruit

  2. 2. Directions Monthly July 2007 Issue 14 Welcome to the July edition of Directions Monthly. The 2012 Olympics brings with it an opportunity to present the benefits sustainable procurement can bring – so we thought it was only right to give the supply chain management issue some much needed attention. We have invited Shaun McCarthy, Director of Action Sustainability and Chair of the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012, to give us an insight into why businesses need to resist ‘low hanging fruit’ and avoid the quick win approach. He suggests the procurement profession needs to shape up and create a more ‘fruitful’ strategy to tackle supply chain issues. Lucie Harrild Pavan Athwal Businesses need to reconsider the way in which they manage their supply chain and ensure they are communicating with all who may hold them accountable. So why is the procurement profession not realising this opportunity to raise its own profile? Over the past 50 years, one third of the earth’s strategy or an altruistic initiative. The answer species have become extinct, a further third of course is both. This is not an ‘or’ thing, are set to follow if mankind does nothing to it is an ‘and’ thing. They see their core halt the environmental degradation we see customer base becoming more concerned today. Some professions, such as procurement, about sustainability and see an opportunity also face extinction if they do not evolve. Sir to take the right moral course and to satisfy Neville Simms, the Chairman of the Sustainable their customers at the same time. Rather Procurement Task Force, defines sustainable than sit and wait for the next Greenpeace procurement as ‘using procurement to support campaign, leading businesses are grasping wider social, economic and environmental the opportunity rather than mitigating objectives, in ways that offer real long-term a risk. Further evidence of the commercial benefits’. So how high is a sustainable supply opportunities presented by sustainability is chain on your business agenda? Is your demonstrated by the recent announcement supply chain in fact a liability rather than an of EDF as a ‘Sustainability Sponsor’ of the asset? Now, more than ever, is the time for London Olympics. businesses to prioritise their impacts and Shaun McCarthy actions, re-think their supply chains and begin Director of Action Sustainability work on a ‘fruitful’ strategy! and Chair of Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 I was a member of the Sustainable Procurement Task Force and a firm supporter of Sir Neville’s recommendations. In the Flexible Framework, we have a clear picture of what good sustainable procurement practice looks like. This was driven by good practice in business, including BAA who attained second place in the Business in the Community Index in 2006. At the time, good practice in business was based on a clear process to manage risk and for reputation risk driven by stakeholders to set the priorities. The Task Force published its findings a year ago and the substantial part of the work was finished 18 months ago. Leading businesses have already moved the agenda further. Marks & Spencer’s Plan A, for example, is primarily driven by opportunity, not risk. I had the privilege to share a conference platform with a senior M&S manager recently. He was challenged by a member of the audience to say if this was a marketing led
  3. 3. Directions Monthly July 2007 Issue 14 ❝ The economic muscle of the consumer purse is able to fuel change. Firms must ask how fit is our supply chain and how are we communicating this externally and internally. But this is all obvious isn’t it? So why ❝ are businesses so slow to take it on board? Where does this leave the Public Sector? chain and how are we communicating this We all know the managers who go for the With £150bn to spend each year through externally and internally. But this is all obvious easy things to achieve, make a name for the supply chain, this should be a major isn’t it? So why are businesses so slow to take themselves, get promoted and leave the hard force for good. There are some great it on board? things to their successor. But it is never us is examples; the Environment it? It is always somebody else. Look in the Agency is best practice, albeit Unfortunately the answer to the problem is mirror, what do you see…? a bit bureaucratic; DEFRA quite complex, and requires organisations are running hard to catch to assess their individual impact before If procurement fails to address the issue, the up; the Prison Service they are able to tackle it and it takes profession will miss an opportunity to raise its is showing vision with time and effort to change. own profile. It seems everybody is looking for a call for a ‘Zero Waste low hanging fruit, however the sweetest fruit Mattress’, a product Do you remember the old ‘three is often at the top of the tree. Believe me, it’s that does not exist today envelopes’ story? It is about a manager worth the climb. Business needs to think but with huge potential handing over his role to a successor. about a more fruitful strategy. The ice caps (hospitals, hotels, homes?). He tells him he has left three numbered are melting now – we can’t wait for successive Sadly this is the exception rather envelopes to open in sequence if things get generations of envelope preparers! than the rule. I was recently bemoaning a tough. Sure enough, things get tough. The large section of government to a trusted first envelope contains the message ‘blame public sector colleague by saying “they me’ and the new manager pulls through. The haven’t done anything, they have just written next says ‘blame the staff I recruited’ and this a position paper”. I was reminded by my does the trick. The third says ‘prepare three colleague that, in the public sector, they envelopes’. The point of telling this story is to consider they have done something if they emphasise that change on this scale requires have written a position paper. The complexity vision, intellect and, above all, courage. between policy and managing a massive ❝ supply chain sometimes stifles creativity and action. The central government response to the Task Force was progress of a sort but weak in many areas. The draft Local Government The culture of ‘low hanging and Health responses are much better. But why does it take a year? fruit’ and ‘quick wins’ is too ❝ commonplace. I chair the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012. The Olympics represent a major opportunity to break new ground and set new standards. The Commission will publish its first report in the autumn but it is interesting to note the Green Party Chair of the Greater London Assembly, Darren Johnson, congratulating the Olympic Delivery Authority for their progress on sustainability, six months after calling their efforts ‘Pathetic’. High praise indeed from a traditionally critical area. When we talk about sustainable procurement, we are talking about the environment, wages, working hours and the health and safety conditions of businesses. The economic muscle of the consumer purse is able to fuel change. Firms must ask how fit is our supply
  4. 4. ABOUT US SALTERBAXTER ADVISE COMPANIES ON STRATEGY, BRANDING, CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS AND DESIGN. Our clients are extremely varied and include FTSE 100 companies; some of the world’s most exclusive brands; independent, entrepreneurial businesses; world leading educational establishments; law firms; private equity firms and media companies. We name companies, re-invent companies, and re-position companies. We help companies communicate with shareholders and advise them on how to address corporate responsibility. We launch, brand and re-brand. A key area of our expertise is corporate reporting and we advise leading UK and European organisations on strategy and design for their financial and CR communications programmes. We currently work with 12 of the UK FTSE 100. Our offer to clients is a balance of genuine expertise in reporting and CR issues with a commitment to producing outstanding creative design. This has been recognised with our work receiving numerous awards including the ACCA award for innovation in sustainability reporting for our work with O2. Contact: Lucie Harrild Pavan Athwal Tel: +44 (0)20 7229 5720 Tel: +44 (0)20 7229 5720 Directions Monthly supplements our main Directions report. This report is published each year and is now regarded as the UK’s most comprehensive analysis of the trends and issues in CR communications. If you want a copy of the full Directions Annual Survey and Report, call us on the number below or email This supplement is printed on Think Bright and is supplied by Howard Smith. It is an FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) 202 Kensington Church Street certified material and is 100% recyclable. London W8 4DP Tel +44 (0)20 7229 5720 Printed by CTD, an ISO 14001 certified and FSC accredited Fax +44 (0)20 7229 5721 company. TT-COC-2142 ©1996 Forest Stewardship Council A.C