No one involved behaved particularly ethically in the legend of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. How can consumers and organisations ensure that all practices are above board?
The traditional 12 days of Christmas might not start until the 26th of December. But this festive season, we’ll be bringing you the 12 days of procurement Christmas in the run up to the big day. Catch up with the story so far on the Procurious Blog.
“On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…eleven pipers piping.”
There’s no doubt that the most famous piper in the history of piping is the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Renowned for his hypnotic musical talent, he successfully led away an entire town’s population of rats and, following lack of payment for his efforts, children. Can you begin to imagine the power that could be yielded by eleven of them all piping at once?!
We’d hope that, in this instance, the true love would have been extremely careful and ethical when it came to paying the pipers for their efforts; fairly, ethically and on time.
And if they hadn’t? Would the pipers be forgiven for leading away something precious to the true love? Perhaps they would have taken away all the gifts from the previous ten days!
It all begs the question, who is most responsible for the horrible outcome at the end of the tale, the townsfolk or the Pied Piper? Neither behaved entirely ethically.
Ethics is an issue readily discussed in procurement with regards to the supply chain and the consumer buying an end product or service. Both are, in part, responsible for ensuring that processes, pricing and staff-management are ethical and sustainable.
Where’s Your Consumer Conscience?
At this year’s Big Ideas Summit, Lucy Siegle, journalist at The Guardian, discussed the importance of consumers supporting sustainable fashion.
Fast fashion can be extremely enticing thanks to its competitive pricing and the consumer’s desire for on-trend clothing. But what is the true cost of this industry? If you purchase an item of disposable fashion at a cheap price, have you considered the working conditions for those at the end of the supply chain?
It’s possible you’re supporting a fashion brand that pays low wages to workers in developing countries in terrible working conditions and, at worst sweatshop labour.
Whilst it might have been easy to claim ignorance in previous years, in an age of ethics and transparency, ignorance and apathy are no longer acceptable. It’s easy to dismiss responsibility by expecting fashion brands themselves to ensure supply chain purity. But defiant and principled consumers can make an important impact by refusing to buy these products.
Danielle Stewart, Head of Financial Reporting at RSM UK, discussed this point further at our Big Ideas Summit 2015.
And if you’re still unsure whether your fashion purchases are ethical or not, ‘Good On You’ can help!
Is the Future Bright for Green Supply Chains?
Of course, we’re not placing the burden of achieving ethical supply chains entirely on the consumer’s shoulders. Organisations themselves are under increasing pressure to “go green”.
The long-term benefits to procurement alone are indisputable. These include:
- The achievement of significant savings by focusing on a “whole life costing” methodology for procurement.
- The incorporation of the “three Rs” (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle), to cut waste and improve the efficiency of resources.
- The improvement of management information, a focus on business and supply chain risk, and better supplier relationships.
- Competitive advantage as a consequence of the early adoption of practices, focusing on increasingly environmentally-focussed legislation.
Back in June, the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council (SPLC) recognised twelve organisations that are aiding the long term health and vitality of society, economies, and the planet through best practice. These organisations are doing a great job at setting a standard for the rest of the world.
David Noble, Group Chief Executive of The Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS), discussed the issue of ethics in procurement at last year’s Big Ideas Summit:
Changes were also afoot in 2016 in relation to modern slavery in supply chains. New legislations were added to the Modern Slavery Act which came in to practice in April. All businesses with a turnover of over £36 million must now prove they have taken steps to remove slave and child labour from their supply chains.
It’s likely that smaller businesses will also be forced to step up to the plate. As the larger companies begin to investigate suppliers throughout their supply chain, everyone will be expected to prove they are slavery-free.
It’s so important for organisations to take a measured and targeted approach to tackling exploitative conditions in their supply chains.
Our festive look at procurement is nearly at an end. However, we have one day left – and a look at what the procurement drum beat will be in 2017.