Your Supplier Made The News … For The Wrong Reasons. What Does This Mean For You?

What should you do if your supplier ends up in the news? Here’s what effect it could have on you and how you should mitigate the damage.


Let’s face it, 2020 has been the year that changed everything. Anytime you even go near a media website, you’re hit in the face with the latest pandemic disasters. 

Yet the domination of the news with COVID crisis has meant that there’s little room for much else, which, strangely, may have been a blessing in disguise for some of our organisation’s PR departments – and our own supply chain obligations. From whispers that much of the world’s current PPE is currently the product of modern day slavery to suppliers who have been caught out using substandard (and even contaminated) ingredients in food, there’s mounting evidence that while we’ve all been distracted this year, supplier standards may have been slipping. And while that may not have spelled disaster for us just yet, what do we do when the news catches up with them? 

It’s not good for them, and it’s not good for you. Here’s why … and what you should do about it. 

If your supplier makes the news, will your customers blame you? 

If you think that your customers are savvy enough to distance you from the reputation of your suppliers, think again. Ever since the Nike sweatshop scandal rocked organisations worldwide, it’s been clear that if your suppliers take a fall, you will too – and it can be highly damaging, if not deadly, to your reputation going forward. Businesses are just as – if not more – responsible for their suppliers than ever before. 

Concerningly, recent research has also found that even when a supplier mishap has, in essence, nothing to do with your product quality, consumers will still start to believe that your product is inferior. This means that if you were to have something like a COVID outbreak in your factory and it was widely publicized, even if you were able to maintain production, your reputation would still be tainted in your consumer’s eyes. Unfortunately, the reputational damage occurs no matter what the issue is: even if, for example, your supplier was caught polluting or even embezzling, your reputation would be the one to take the hit. 

If this sounds terrifying, it’s because it is. Even worse, conditions are currently ripe for it to happen. With our supply chains becoming more and more global and complex, it’s becoming harder and harder to track the activities of our suppliers, let alone our second and third tier ones. And with the rise of social media, the world is becoming more and more savvy – and any issues are becoming more likely to be exposed. Take, for example, Change.org’s famous campaign against Hersheys, which exposed, through social media, the continued use of child labour in its cocoa production in Africa, and forced the company to quickly change track. 

The conclusion? If your supplier has something to hide and the media finds out first, you need to be prepared to weather the reputational and financial hit. 

If it’s just slightly bad news, does it matter so much? 

As talented and thorough procurement and supply chain professionals, most of us already have an oversight of the worst risks and issues within our supply chain – and thankfully, we’ve mitigated them. So if something small slips through the cracks, will it really matter? 

Unfortunately, yes. Firstly, humans have a predilection towards bad news. Decades of psychological research have shown that we’re all naturally drawn towards bad news, so much so that even if nine out of the ten news stories we read are positive, we’ll always remember – and act on – the negative one. What this means is that we, as supply chain professionals, need to be extra cautious about what mishaps might slip through the cracks. 

Secondly, consumers don’t rationalise the ‘degree’ of bad news. In what psychologists call the ‘spillover effect,’ consumers were found to equally condemn companies for supply chain failures, even if the news wasn’t, technically, that bad. On every occasion, bad news in the supply chain meant that consumers were less willing to buy from the organisation for an extended period of time. 

How do you mitigate the damage? 

By now, you’re probably frantically checking and rechecking all of your suppliers, terrified that something may have gone wrong. And while the response is justified, and we should always aim to have as much insight as possible into our suppliers, know this: you can mitigate the damage done if your suppliers do end up in the news for the wrong reasons. 

And the best way to do this is to simply try to help find a solution, and communicate this to all involved. 

In positive news, research into the spillover effect has found that while damage can be done quickly, it can be undone at just the same speed. Organisations that act quickly to rectify issues, for example, those who instantly clean up environmental spills or put an end to labour issues, can rescue their reputation, if they take responsibility and put mechanisms in place to do better. And while consumer’s buying behaviour may not revert instantly, if you are able to win back the trust of your customers, the damage need not be long term.  

Managing risk and reputation 

Given the complexity of supply chains these days, maintaining accountability of your suppliers has long been an issue, especially when it comes to tier two or three suppliers. Yet just because this task is challenging, it doesn’t mean it isn’t important. Thankfully, if reputational damage does occur, it is possible to reverse it. But do we want to take the risk of finding out? 

Has your supplier ever ended up in the news? What did you do about it? Let us know below.

Do Supplier Panels Deliver On Expectations Or Leave You Wanting More?

Are supplier panels as outdated as your nan’s rug? Do they stifle innovation? Or are they a basic essential for every procurement pro’s toolkit?


Supplier panels have been around forever. They are as old and ubiquitous as the crocheted rug on your nan’s couch. Just because they’re part of the furniture, does it make them a good solution? Are they old fashioned? Or worse, do they limit innovation? Why do we still use panels?

Read on to find out!

What is a supplier panel?

A supplier panel is a list of suppliers who have been pre-approved / vetted and have agreed to the terms and conditions for supply which is generally ratified by the supplier signing a standardised head agreement. Panels are suitable when there is an ongoing need for the goods or service and there is enough volume to support multiple suppliers.

It’s an (approved) little black book of key suppliers that you can call on in your time of need.

Why bother?

The two major benefits.  You can secure a list of verified suppliers who you know can deliver what you need.  The terms and conditions are locked in, which often includes rates. The major benefit to the suppliers is that they become a preferred partner and will get first dibs on any work coming out of your organisation.

Are they still relevant?

Traditionally supplier panels were established to create efficiencies in sourcing. The premise is simple, agree the majority of terms up front and call off what you need when you need it through a slimmer form of contract, like a statement of work or purchase order. Easy right?

Well, not entirely. There are several pitfalls to avoid when it comes to supply panels.

  • The initial process can be exaggerated and onerous. There are supplier panel processes that have taken over a year to run, can you imagine?!
  • Once the panel is established, there can be a lack of work due to a large volume of suppliers being selected or the business not using the panel
  • The energy and enthusiasm of the establishment phase can disappear, stringent scopes in the head agreements can narrow what the panel can be used for, therefore stifling innovation
  • The secondary processes (where the work is actually awarded) can often succumb to  supplier bias / familiarity and not be competitively tested

Supply panels do have a place in procurement; they just need to be established with the right motivation in mind and be right-sized to the requirements.  Don’t dress mutton up as lamb, just call it like it is. If you need a phonebook of suppliers, then do a simple registered suppliers list.

Where to start – plan for success!

Many panels have failed to deliver. Imagine, all that effort up front only for it to never be used! It can damage the reputation of the buyer when suppliers feel jilted at having invested so much into a process, only to “hear crickets” from the buyer. Avoid this situation procurement pro’s!

Follow this useful guide to ensure you only invest your valuable time where it’s actually needed.

Five winning strategies for panelsAction stations!
The first key decision is do you need a panel? Really? Really, really?Let data drive you – not your customer or management team. Make sure you invest the time to test the need.  Back it up with evidence.
What’s the goods / services? What category does it fit into?The type of goods and services should define what type of panel you should establish. Don’t design a Rolls Royce if you only need a mini!   Use Kraljic’s purchasing matrix to help.
What relationship management style do you want and need?If you are buying a bucket load of pens, then you don’t need to follow any fads and produce a 400 page partnership agreement, pens are usually goods / units and tactical procurements.   The relationship management style should drive the type of panel you establish.   Relationship Management Spectrum contained on page 12 of this guide
How are you seen as a buyer?It’s important to know your position in the market to understand your attractiveness and what leveraging power you have.   Power and dependency model
Where does this product / good / service fit in context of the total spend of your organisation?What is the criticality of this service to your business? How dependent are you on this supplier? And what is the value of the contract in comparison to your total spend?   These questions help inform the contract style, the effort you should put in and the relationship style.   Supplier positioning matrix

The work is not complete when the contracts are signed, in fact it has only just begun.

To get the most out of your panel, ensure you:

  • engage regularly with the suppliers
  • Issue pipelines of upcoming work to incentivise them
  • Communicate regularly with your internal users
  • Try to ensure all panel members are utilized either through competitive quotes, rotating contract opportunities

What are your top tips for managing supplier panels?

Is It Time To Retire The Office Drinks Trolley?

While after-work drinks used to be a staple of office life, new drinking trends, sobriety challenges and negative effects on mental and physical health have highlighted alternatives that better promote team building and could spell the end to “work drinks” trends.


As pubs and bars in the UK reopen their doors and many businesses head back into the office, many people will be thrilled to be finally meeting colleagues and friends for a post-lockdown drink. However, there has been a distinct change in drinking habits during quarantine, while 57% of Brits are consuming alcohol as normal, 17% say they’ve been drinking more, and 25% are actively cutting down on their alcohol consumption, according to YouGov data.

During lockdown, the government recognised mental health implications caused by the pandemic and the media helped to raise awareness and provide resources to support the public during this time. However, the ongoing impact of alcohol consumption on mental health is nothing new and is rarely addressed, even as research showed that consumption patterns changed during lockdown. As the workplace evolves with new ways of working and environments where people socialise change in response to public safety concerns, will after-work drinks become a thing of the past? We explore the relationship between alcohol and the workplace and how perhaps the pandemic has served as the catalyst for changing the way we work and help us to discover alternative ways of expressing ourselves and connecting with others.

Cocktail Culture

There is no doubt that the media’s glamourisation of alcohol, especially amongst women, has helped to normalise more frequent and heavier drinking of alcohol in work environments, at the Friday afternoon drinks trolley or ‘swift-half’ after work. Post-work drinks have been assimilated as a way to wind down after a stressful day for decades and used as a reason to build personal bonds with coworkers – even used as means to get ahead in the workplace. More formal industry events are often held on the assumption that everyone will be networking with a drink in their hand. This drinking culture not only alienates non-drinkers, but it also has a variety of negative effects on our health, both mental and physical. 

Mind & Body

In addition to the well-publicised physical health issues caused by continued alcohol consumption, such as liver disease, heart disease, and high blood pressure, there are a host of mental health issues that alcohol can also contribute to. Approximately one-third of individuals struggling with alcohol abuse also suffer from mental ill-health, and the number of people admitted to hospital with alcohol-related behavioural disorders has risen in the last 10 years by 94% for those aged 15-59, and by 150% for people over 60. 

Alcohol is a depressant, disrupting our thoughts, wellbeing and actions in the short term, and causing long term mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, and OCD. When alcohol is used as a coping mechanism for stress or as a social lubricant, it often has an adverse effect. Studies have continually linked alcohol abuse and addiction to violence, domestic incidents, and suicide, making it one of the biggest killers globally.

COVID-19 Impact 

According to pre-pandemic research by the Economic Research Council, the risk of ‘problem drinking’ is heightened when individuals are working in conditions such as: isolated away from friends and family, with extended working hours, in dangerous environments, and when we’re at risk from organisational change such as restructure or redundancy. This list makes it clear why alcohol consumption has increased during the COVID-19 crisis. Sarah Hughes, the chief executive of the Centre for Mental Health, said ‘Those employers that ignore the issue, or who undermine the mental health of their staff, risk not only the health of the people who work for them but the wealth of their business and the health of the economy as a whole.’

Generational Attitudes

Many people recognised the negative effects of alcohol on wellbeing long before lockdown, and this is particularly apparent in millennials (or those born between 1981-1996). According to a 2019 report, 56% of millennials consider themselves ‘mindful drinkers’ compared to only 37% of baby boomers. This has been attributed to millennials’ desire to be more conscious in all aspects of their lives, which has also contributed to a rise in vegan and cruelty-free lifestyles. 

Young professionals also benefit from hyperconnectivity and increased social media use, giving them the opportunity to instantly catch up with friends or family online rather than in person, over a drink. Virtual communities also exist online to help people in times of worry or stress, meaning they’re less likely to turn to alcohol to self-medicate. We’re also seeing a rise in ‘sober-curious’ people, who are looking to cut down on alcohol, but still enjoy an occasional drink. So, when working within a millennial team, it might be time to ditch the boozy activities in favour of more sober socials.

Alternative Activities

Luckily, it’s never been easier to drink less, with a variety of alcohol companies releasing soft drinks or 0% alcohol variations. In May 2020, during the height of the pandemic, sales of non-alcoholic beer were up 44% in the US compared to the same period in 2019.

However, alcohol-free employee activities need to be more creative than simply replacing cocktails with mocktails or switching to alcohol-free beer. After-work drinks essentially provides human connection and serves as a way of employees switching off and bonding. Here are a few alternative ways to provide that social connection which don’t revolve around alcohol, are available around the clock and are inclusive for entire organisations.

Research shows that increasing numbers of people are actively drinking less to improve their health and wellbeing, why not incorporate this into employee wellbeing social activities? Switch the drinks trolley for yoga classes, meditation, book or cinema club, cooking classes, or sports and outdoor games. All of which are more fun, release countless endorphins and provide fuel for conversation enabling employees to find out more about their colleagues, beyond what they order at the bar. 

Deeper Issues

This not only shifts the focus away from alcohol, but also acts as an opportunity for managers to dig deeper into what employees actually want to achieve from team activities. Employees may be looking to unwind and escape from the office, but is heading to the pub or offering complimentary drinks in the office just a lazy substitution for resolving wider issues such as disjointed teams or excessive workplace stress? By discovering why employees are utilising alcohol as a buffer will lead to a better understanding of their needs as both in and out of the workplace.

This article was originally published on HappyMaven on 16/7/20 and is republished here with permission.

Why Are Women Getting The Short End Of The Stick When It Comes To COVID-19?

What is the pink recession and why is it coming?


Women in the workplace

It’s no shock to anyone that women have been shortchanged in the workplace for decades now. We’re still struggling for equality on so many levels. From being promoted last, to being passed over for the best assignments, we always end up seemingly on the short end of the stick.

That surely doesn’t mean we haven’t made progress. This problem literally comes two months after Forbes reported Women had started holding more jobs in the US than men. And now, they have accounted for 55% of the increase in job losses.

That means, a portion of our progress may be quickly erased with the new ‘Pink-Collar recession.’ So, what exactly is it?

In a recent article from The Guardian, they define it as the economic downturn from the COVID-19 outbreak, that has ended up affecting more women than men. The opposite of what we typically see in times of economic crises.  

Great. It’s exactly what we don’t need when it comes to advancing the cause. It’s been hard enough fighting for equal pay, now this setting us back even further!

Causes of the Pink-Collar Recession

Although there may be some who may be happy that we are going back to more traditional ways, most of us are not. And that’s only a sliver of the problem; because, it’s tradition for women to stay home and take care of the kids.

Now, just because it’s tradition, doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do. Women have more than proved themselves when it comes to being successful.

Just look at amazing women politicians like Angela Merkle and Jacinda Arden. Not to mention all the women who have their own businesses and made it to the C-Suite of Fortune 500 companies. We’ve overcome the odds to be some of the most powerful women in the world!

Unfortunately, not all women can work full time, and therein lies another problem. Women started out with a disadvantage from the beginning. Women are over-represented in low-wage roles.

Add to that the majority of industries women have chosen to work in have been the ones the hardest hit by the downturn. Retail, food services and accommodations (hospitality) are at the top of that list.  

Even in certain industries like transportation (i.e. airlines), women with the least amount of seniority, are most likely to lose their jobs.

And even for those of us who are able to work remotely from home, research suggests (by the IFC and UCL Institute of education) that:

“Among those doing paid work at home, mothers are more likely than fathers to be spending their work hours simultaneously trying to care for children…that in lockdown, mothers in two-parent households are only doing, on average, a third of the uninterrupted paid-work hours of fathers.”

I personally can validate these statistics. And I can say that it isn’t something I’m particularly happy about.

Women Making it Through and Past the COVID-19 World

We’ve endured much tougher things as women than a virus, so I’m certain we will make it through these times. Some women like myself, have been able to keep their jobs and effectively multi-task taking care of their children at the same time.

But for some, that may simply not be true or as lucky. Therefore, the question then remains, what are the women who have been directly affected to do?

Well for one, the women who have managed to maintain their positions and family, must look out for those who were less fortunate. Being aware of the current impact to the work environment, just simply isn’t enough.

Second, we must push harder for gender equality in the workplace. Equal pay, pregnancy leave, and flexible work-schedules (remote too) are at the top of my list.  But even succeeding with these things, won’t get us to equality.

Go out of your way to become a role-model or mentor to other women who have been held back in their careers. And if you are managing women employees, make sure that they know you value work and are rewarded to reflect this.

We always knew the path to gender equality wouldn’t be a straight one, but I’m sure few of us planned for this set-back. That’s why it’s so important for us to try and keep what advancements we had made. And then push harder, for more in the future.

Without this, we may be leaving ourselves open to a much dire situation. And I personally can’t think of anything worse than our society being sent back to the 1950’s. We deserve equality, so let’s not let each other down and support the fight!

For other on supporting women’s rights, check out these Women in Procurement news at Procurious.

Navigating The Next 150 Days: Three Experts Share How to Strengthen Supply Chain Defenses

Three procurement experts share their strategies for mitigating supply chain risk during the second half of 2020.


The Economist put it best in early July: “You may have lost interest in the pandemic. It has not lost interest in you. COVID-19 is here to stay. People will have to adapt. The world is not experiencing a second wave: it never got over the first.”

This reminder rings true for procurement and supply chain leaders.

Thankfully, we are more than halfway through this disaster of a year called 2020. Let’s take stock of where things stand: At the outset of the crisis, 97% of supply chains were affected. Since then, the global supply chain has stabilized, but remains vulnerable. The virus continues to spread and economic uncertainty remains. But are we on the path to recovery? 

“It’s hard to say if we are in recovery or not,” says Nick Binks, General Manager Contracting and Procurement for Woodside Energy. “The initial crisis has passed, but we have not fully recovered. We expect to see new hurdles and obstacles pop up in our supply chain.”

riskmethods, a supply chain risk management provider, recently analysed all the risk indicators for the first half of the year. What they found was telling: In May, there was a decline in every type of supply chain risk they monitored, which cautiously signalled the start of a turnaround.  

The keyword there, of course, is cautious. riskmethods also found that the percentage of pandemic-related threats in May was still higher than January or February 2020.

“This crisis is far from over,” said Bill DeMartino, Managing Director for riskmethods North America. “The next few months are critical for building up supply chain defenses to protect against the next wave.”

Procurement’s Second Half Focus: Supplier Health and Risk Awareness

What’s the best way for procurement and supply chain leaders to strengthen defenses through the end of 2020?

Naomi Lloyd, the Director Procurement Asia Pacific for Campbell Arnott’s, recommends keeping a pulse on the big picture. “Be conscious of the entire market. You may be experiencing strong demand now, but someone else in your network may experience a drop in demand or disruption. Everything is connected,” said Lloyd.

DeMartino agrees: “Determining your critical supply chain dependencies is a must during the recovery process.”

The financial roller coaster we’re experiencing also bears watching. According to riskmethods, financial distress of suppliers was 105% higher in May than at the beginning of the crisis, signaling there’s more damage to come.

“Getting an accurate read on supplier health is always a challenge. Traditionally, we would qualify a supplier’s financial viability, and then set it and forget it,” said Binks. “Now we are regularly checking and monitoring.”

Becoming a more risk-aware enterprise is an essential step in the recovery and resilience process, according to riskmethods. Supply chain and procurement leaders can take different steps to make that happen, depending on what their business is experiencing right now. Specifically,

–          During crisis, dedicate additional resources to risk management

–          During recovery, expand the importance of risk in decision making

–         While operating in the new normal, elevate the role of risk preparedness by uniting stakeholders across the enterprise

“Risk has always been a KPI on our procurement scorecard, but pre-COVID, no-one really took much interest in it within the business,” said Lloyd. “Now, risk management has been elevated. We’re holding weekly cross-functional meetings to openly identify and discuss what’s happening on the risk front. Procurement leads these meetings, but everyone is involved: quality, engineering, planning, operations, finance, R&D, sales, and more. This puts risk front and center for everyone.”

The next five months will fly. The onus is on procurement and supply chain teams to ensure operations don’t crash.

Listen to Bill DeMartino, Nick Binks, Naomi Lloyd and Tania Seary in our latest webinar – The Risk Report – Now streaming in the Supply Chain Crisis group

My Pay Has Been Cut. What Should I Do Next?

Has your pay been cut due to COVID? Here’s what to do if it has. 


There’s no doubt that the economic effects of the coronavirus have been significant, with job losses being so severe that many countries  are comparing this situation to the Great Depression.  But for those of us who have fortunately retained our jobs, the effects have still been felt. Namely, many of us in numerous industries from professional services to education may have had to have some uncomfortable conversations. And those conversations may have involved taking a pay cut. 

Right now, we may all just be grateful to have a job, and besides, with quasi-lockdowns and travel bans still in place for much of the world, we may simply not need as much disposable income. But looking into the future, how happy will we be that we’re now working for less? How long will it take for wages to revert to ‘normal?’ Should we ask for a raise anytime soon? 

To help answer all of your burning questions about pay, we spoke to Stella Voules, Director and Co-CEO of JOST&Co., a HR and change management consultancy. But before we bring you Stella’s insights, here’s a high-level rundown of the industrial relations set up in each of our major member countries that govern pay cuts: 

Can my organisation force me to take a pay cut? 

Is it even legal for your organisation to ask you to take a pay cut? It depends on where you live. Here’s the different laws for the US, UK and Australia. 

In the USA, can my organisation force me to take a pay cut? 

Legally, yes. Pay cuts are allowed, as long as they aren’t done on a discriminatory basis (for example, they haven’t your pay because of your gender). A pay cut due to COVID is legal, and all your employer needs to do is notify you of the same. If you do have an individual employment contract or union employment contract, you may be protected from pay cuts, depending on your conditions. 

After they cut your pay, your employer does not have any obligation to return it to its pre-COVID levels. 

In the UK, can my organisation force me to take a pay cut? 

No If your employer does want or need to reduce your pay, they need to obtain your consent. 

If they don’t first obtain your consent, you are entitled to resign, initiate a claim against your employer, or continue to work in your job while also initiating a claim for compensation. 

If your employer does ask you to take a pay cut, you are also entitled to refuse. But if you do this, your employer may be able to terminate your employment contract and try to offer you a new one with varied conditions and pay. 

If your employer is changing the pays of multiple people within your organisation, they are also legally obliged to consult with your relevant trade union. 

In Australia, can my organisation force me to take a pay cut? 

Usually, no. A reduction in pay is classified as a variation in your employment conditions, so you and your organisation must first agree on the changed terms before the change is made. You have the right to refuse a change in pay, and if your organisation terminates your employment on account, you can make a claim for unfair dismissal. 

Yet although your organisation can’t force you to take a pay cut, there may still be pressure to do so if you fear you will otherwise lose your job. 

If I’ve taken a pay cut due to COVID, when should I expect my pay to return to pre-pandemic levels? 

The legals of pay cuts are rather black and white. Yet as many of us know, employment is very much a relationship, and given the strain that coronavirus has put on so many businesses, many of us are feeling both empathetic towards our employer, and grateful to be in a job at all. These feelings may have encouraged us to agree to pay cuts – for now. But when can we expect our pays to go back to normal? 

Stella Voules says that that is a very big question, and the answer isn’t as simple as we’d like: 

‘Your pay cut “end date” may depend on the instrument used to change your pay in the first place, for example what was in your contract or what your union negotiated. In some cases, an end date may have been specified.’ 

‘But given that the pandemic has no end date, it’s likely that your pay cut may be ongoing.’ 

Stella says employees who have had their pay cut should have done so on certain conditions, and those conditions may have included entering into a new, temporary agreement. If you don’t think this has happened to you, though, Stella advises seeking legal advice from an employment lawyer and your union to understand in more detail what you’ve agreed to. 

If my pay cut was undefined in its length, what signs should I look out for from my employer’s perspective that might indicate my pay would be restored? 

If you’ve taken a pay cut with no defined end date, you might be worried about when your pay will be reinstated. Will it be when the pandemic is declared over? Or will it be when the economy has completely bounced back? 

Unfortunately, much like the pandemic end date, there may be no definite point in time or event which will signal that your pay should be restored. But if you are concerned, there’s a few things you can look out for, says Stella: 

‘Just like in “normal” times, knowing what you should be paid is about watching the market. Look at job ads, ask around, see what other people at other organisations like yours are being paid.’ 

‘Within your organisation, there’s also a few things you can do. For example, look at the revenues of your business, ask for their annual report, see how they’re performing financially.’ 

If an organisation is still in financial distress, says Stella, it will be difficult for them to reinstate pays. And even if they aren’t in distress, they may be taking a conservative approach as no one really knows how the pandemic will play out. But if, and only if, it’s clear that your organisation has returned to its previous level of profitability, then you may start asking questions about your pay. 

How do I go about asking for a pay rise, if my pay has been cut? 

Asking for a payrise is never easy. But in pandemic times, it’s even harder. How do you know if it’s appropriate to ask? How do you do so in a way that doesn’t seem greedy and selfish, especially if your organisation has suffered financially? 

Just like for any pay rise discussion, Stella says, you need to arm yourself with as much information as possible. Research what’s happening in your sector, and what’s happening within your specific category and job role. Understand whether there’s strong demand and have a good idea of pay benchmarks. Only then should you have any sort of pay conversation. 

Yet benchmarking your role in terms of pay is only the first step, Stella says. In order to have any type of pay conversation in COVID or even post-COVID times, you also need to know the  following: 

  1. How well your company is performing financially 
  2. How well you’ve performed in your role 
  3. What your unique skills and capabilities are, and value you personally bring to the company. 

Armed with this information (and assuming it’s all positive), Stella says that you can reasonably request a pay review. 

What should I do if my request for a pay rise is declined? 

Asking for a pay rise is one thing. But getting one is entirely another, especially at the moment. So if your pay has been cut, at what point should you consider looking elsewhere? 

Given the circumstances, Stella says, you should try to be fair to your employer by not looking elsewhere straight away, especially if they’ve been loyal and supportive throughout the pandemic. Beyond this, Stella believes that anyone concerned about pay right now should consider the bigger picture: 

‘If you don’t get your pay rise, remember that reward is so much bigger than pay. So perhaps you can’t get more money right now, but what about more flexibility? Or more opportunities, perhaps some different benefits?’ 

‘Give your employer a chance to find a way to keep you satisfied before looking elsewhere. Remember, the grass is not always greener.’ 

Have you taken a COVID-related pay cut? Has your pay been restored yet or do you know when it will? Let us know in the comments below.

CPO Digital Forum: Crown Resorts And IKON Services

A clean start: tips and tricks for corporates to create a COVID-safe workplace.


One of the biggest misconceptions out there right now is that cleaning is booming, says Estelle Lewis, who is the group executive general manager for partnerships at cleaning services and hygiene products company IKON Services.

The company, which provides cleaning services and hygiene products to a number of blue chip clients, including Crown Resorts, has been on a difficult journey.

A big challenge has been accessing accurate information and ensuring it’s disseminated to staff and clients, she says.

“People turn to cleaning companies as the experts about COVID-19, but the reality is that this has sort of hit us all very quickly and none of us have really had time to sort of take in what this virus actually means for all of these businesses.

“We’re learning while our clients are learning, but we need to be that one step ahead,” Lewis says.

The Group General Manager of Procurement and Supply Chains, Ben Briggs admits he’s had similar challenges at Crown Resorts, with approximately 16,000 staff and contractors regularly on site.

“Reopening a Casino will have its challenges. It’s probably one of the most difficult things to do because you don’t typically reopen, you’re always open,” Briggs says.

“So we have to understand how to create a safe working environment for people, staff and patrons as part of the reopening phase.

“There’s a lot of human elements that we’re going to have to work through over the next couple of months to make sure that we can create a safe working environment at Crown,” he says.

As people get back to work, there’s going to be a level of comfort around the fact that we’re getting back to normal. But we need to be reminded that it’s a ‘new normal’ and a complex space, the pair agree.

The pair opened up about some of the 7 biggest challenges for companies looking to create a Covid-safe work environment:

1. Public confidence

A key priority right now is looking for ways to make the public need to feel safe about returning, so a lot of work needs to go into messaging, Briggs says.

“It will be a different working environment and a different operating environment. You may see thermal scanners at entry points, limited access points into the casino, furniture removed so that we can create social distancing and all the communication that needs to go along with that so that people feel safe,” he says.

“It’s not going to be easy, but I’m pretty confident that with the measures we’re putting in place, people are going to feel safe to come back to the property and come back and enjoy our facilities again,” he says.

Briggs admits he’s been dubbed ‘The Sanitiser Guy’ and ‘The Sneeze Guard Man’ by his colleagues as he looks to overhaul Crown.

“Where practical be such as hotel reception desks, we’re putting sneeze guards up. There’s sanitisation stations everywhere you go. People are going to have access to masks and sanitisation,” he says.

2. Visual reminders

Visual reminders in the form of signs and messages are being erected throughout properties and visual reminders added to flooring to keep people apart.

Making sure that hand sanitisers and wipes are available to all for staff to clean down their environments when they come and go will be crucial, Briggs adds.

Remote working will also be crucial, because we are unlikely to get all the 15,000 people back to work in the same space. We’re going to have to be smart about it. “Assessing which roles can work remotely, how we structure the work environment to enable appropriate distancing and which roles are operational and are needed on the ground will require some finessing,” he adds.

Lewis adds that she’s looking at sourcing a piece of sophisticated technology with an LSD screen to allow customer communication that allows you to add COVID-19 messages and takes temperatures at reception points is on the cards for clients.

3. Communal kitchens

The communal kitchen was once a place where food, coffee and great conversation takes place in offices, but that looks set to be a thing of the past, Lewis says.

Communal plates, cutlery, glassware and the shared office fruit bowl is on the chopping block.

“Kitchens are also a tricky space from a cleaning perspective. It could be an area where fogging works really well, which is a mist spray that works well for tight spaces. The high grade chemical concentrate mist helps get into corners and edges where viruses can live, which I’d recommend doing on a regular basis,” Lewis says.

And while there a plethora of new cleaning companies entering the market offering fogging and sanitisation, businesses need to ensure they engage companies that stand for trust and integrity.

4. The boardroom

Board meetings will be a very different function within a business. The room will be transformed to adhere to social distancing, with every second chair removed, access to wipes and additional bins for wipes to prevent the spread of germs. Hand sanitiser will also be added to the room.

People will be expected to take responsibility for their own hygiene, and report any symptoms if they’re feeling unwell and stay home, Briggs says.

5. Vulnerable workers

Vulnerable workers who are considered high risk require special consideration in the workplace, Briggs says.

It’s about putting enough protections in place for them so they feel safe and willing to come back into the office. A perspex screen and floor markings to encourage social distancing perspective so that people have their own space will be crucial.

“Adapt our workplace policies and processes to ensure they are safe and their workspace is a safe haven will be crucial. Reporting and compliance is also important,” Briggs adds.

6. Response plan

Creating a rapid response process that provides specific measures for closing down in the event of an outbreak is crucial, Briggs says.

The rapid response plan ensures properties are closed down and reopened swiftly, which also needs to be part of a training regime for staff and enforced, he says.

7. Clean desks

The traditional desk station is being overhauled, while hot desking has been abandoned in corporate settings around the world.

While people will continue to be encouraging people so work from home, if they do need to come into work, each personal workspace will need to be kept tidy and minimalistic so surfaces can be cleaned is paramount, Briggs says.

“It’s about keeping those practices up so that we don’t get comfortable and lazy in the area that things have gone back to normal so that we can go back to our previous behaviours,” Briggs says.

Join Procurious to connect with 40,000 other ambitious procurement professionals and get free access to networking, industry news, training and much more. 

How To Set A Procurement Strategy Part 1: What You’re Currently Doing Wrong

How do you set a strategy for your procurement function? Discover what not to do. 


In 2020, we’re all au fait with the word ‘strategic.’ Procurement needs to be strategic, metaphorically yells every advice piece we read. What’s the strategy behind that, what’s your function’s strategy, what’s the strategy this year? Exclaim C-suite executives we run into; or perhaps a strategy consultant they’ve engaged. 

But when it comes to procurement – what does a strategy even mean? 

As an internal function, a procurement strategy is a complex idea. As procurement’s purpose is inherently to serve our stakeholders, should our strategy simply be to do just that? Or should we set a separate procurement strategy, based on best practice we observe in our particular function, elsewhere? Both approaches have their benefits, but also significant downsides. So which one is it, or is it neither? Here’s a detailed explanation of the two different ‘strategies’ that most procurement teams execute, and exactly why they may not be the best choice going forward: 

Bad strategy #1 – The ‘Your Wish is My Command’ Strategy

What is the ‘Your Wish is My Command’ strategy? 

Ken had not long been in his role as CPO at a utilities company when a meeting entitled ‘Procurement Strategy’ appeared in his diary. He hoped – and assumed – that the meeting would be about the business’s long-term strategy, which he would then translate into a roadmap for his team. 

But he was wrong. 

Alison, the company’s CEO, told him that he need not bother himself with strategy, because ‘that’s what I’m here for.’ She said, unapologetically, that the job of internal functions like procurement was to ‘keep all internal stakeholders happy’ and that she expected his team to ‘do whatever was required’ to do just that. 

‘That was the problem with the last CPO,’ she told Ken, ominously. ‘She was always on a different wavelength, always chasing her own version of success. But while she did that, no one here was happy. Don’t repeat that same mistake.’ 

Why is the ‘Your Wish is My Command’ strategy so appealing? 

The ‘Your Wish is My Command’ strategy, or the idea a procurement function exists to simply do whatever is required by stakeholders within the business, is frighteningly common. This is because the basic premise of this strategy – the idea that internal functions are created to serve the wider corporation – is in fact correct. Many CEOs believe that the business units that create products or support customers should be supported by internal functions. While this is true, it can also be deeply frustrating for functions that need – and deserve – to create their own strategy. 

But the problem with the ‘Your Wish is My Command’ strategy runs much deeper than just frustration. 

What’s the problem with the ‘Your Wish is My Command’ strategy? 

The ‘Your Wish is My Command’ strategy works in theory only; as many CPOs will have now no doubt learnt. By granting ‘wishes’ – so to speak – to a multitude of different commanders, without any regard for what to prioritise or how to allocate resources, staff quickly become overworked, resources get spread too thin, and stakeholders are often underwhelmed. All decisions become reactive and nothing is done well, meaning that the all-important procurement influence is lost, with little room to show value added. Business units start ‘insourcing’ – either doing part of procurement’s job themselves, or looking for cheaper, external resources to do it for them. 

Overworked staff, insourcing and little value perceived to be added leads the C-suite to fundamentally question whether procurement is ‘worth it,’ meaning ever-more pressure on cost savings, and eventually, redundancies. 

The ‘My Wish is Your Command’ strategy is something that Dave Pastore, Senior Director, Sourcing Operations at Corcentric, has seen too many times – but, in his opinion, it never works: 

‘Any strategy that reduces the procurement function to a shared service without providing it with the ability to challenge the organisation is a squandered opportunity at best, and a self-inflicted wound at worst.’

On the surface, the ‘Your Wish is My Command’ strategy seems to make sense. But dig deeper, and it’s a deeply fraught concept that deprives procurement as a function of fundamentally doing what they need to do – adding value. 

Bad strategy #2 – ‘Market Leader’ Strategy

It’s clear that the ‘Your Wish is My Command’ strategy is no way forward. So is the opposite strategy, one whereby procurement makes clear choices that set the company apart vis-a-vis other procurement functions externally, the better choice then? 

Not quite… 

What is the ‘Market Leader’ strategy? 

As a new CPO in one of the world’s fastest growing tech companies, Karen thought she’d secured her dream role. And in her first few months on the job, that seemed to be the truth. 

As someone who was quite entrepreneurial and strategic herself, Karen knew that to become a ‘market leader’ in procurement, the company needed to invest heavily in tech. The CEO, himself a young entrepreneur, gave Karen the green light to do whatever she needed. ‘Just make sure we’re the best,’ he said, while signing off on a budget that made Karen’s eyes water. 

But as time passed by, problems materialised for Karen. It turned out that being ‘the best’ wasn’t as easy as emulating best practice in the marketplace, for a number of reasons. 

Why is the ‘Market Leader’ strategy so appealing? 

For ambitious CPOs, the chance to implement the ‘Market Leader’ strategy can feel like a career-defining moment. Firstly, it treats procurement with the respect it deserves, and places it equally with the rest of the business in terms of power and importance. Secondly, it just seems like the right thing to do. If you’re trying to be ‘the best,’ why not look for an example of that and then try and do the same? 

Creating a ‘market leading’ procurement function may well look good on your CV. It may be the case study that nets you media coverage; that amplifies your personal brand and that makes you an authority in the space. But at the same time, there’s every chance it will fail within your organisation. 

Why? 

What is the problem with the ‘Market Leader’ strategy? 

The ‘Market Leader’ strategy seems perfect until you consider one thing: context. And given that procurement is not separate to an organisation, but an integral part of it, context is hugely important. 

Take the example of Karen detailed above. What evidence did she have, beyond the fact that she was working for a tech company, that investing heavily in tech was what was needed for her function? Precisely none. Many procurement leaders have chased ‘best practice’ before, only to discover that what might be best in the marketplace may not suit their organisation for a number of reasons. 

Jennifer Ulrich, Senior Directory, Advisory, at Corcentric, believes that the idea that you have to be a ‘market leader’ in all aspects of procurement is misguided: 

‘You don’t have to be a market leader on every aspect of procurement in order to generate a competitive advantage to the organisation. 

‘Doing what is right for the business will put you in a winning position more often.’

While market-leading strategies look externally focused, they actually function more like internal monopolies, where procurement serves themselves, rather than the needs of the business leaders around them. As a result, the function falls victim to the typical problems experienced by monopolies, including arrogance and overresoucring. Managers within the business complain that resources are being used for ‘show’ as opposed to invested in things that would actually give the company a competitive advantage. 

As a result, backlash ensues. The ‘value’ added by procurement is again called into question, and the function is seen as the exact thing it is trying to rebel against: burdensome cost. 

So how should you set a procurement strategy? 

If a ‘Your Wish is My Command’ strategy doesn’t work, and neither does a ‘Market Leader’ strategy, then how should procurement create a meaningful, long-term and effective strategy? 

Diego De la Garza, Senior Director, Global Services, at Corcentric, recommends you begin by doing the following: 

‘Start with defining what success should look like for procurement in your organisation, finding those answers early is a relatively easy way to build a strategy that will drive healthy support across the organisation.’ 

Want more detail? Discover exactly what to do in our next article: How to Set a Procurement Strategy Part 2: What to do. Join Procurious now to be notified immediately when it’s published.

How To Navigate Office Politics (Without Selling Your Soul To The Devil)

How do you play office politics to your advantage? Here’s four skills you’ll need to do so. 


Let’s face it, no one, bar perhaps a few actual psychopaths, goes to work because they love the politics of it. In fact, toxic office politics is often cited as one of the key reasons people quit, and is also associated with low levels of engagement and productivity, and on the more serious side, mental health issues and stress complaints. Does this mean that politics should be avoided altogether? 

Absolutely not. 

Whether you like it or not, office politics are unavoidable. Even worse, if you do choose to try and avoid them, there’s a lot at stake. In most offices, politics are akin to the workplace’s unwritten rules, and they have the power to dictate how people should act, who gets promoted, and ultimately who enjoys career success and who doesn’t. Many successful people will tell you that politics can be even more important than merit – so it’s important to understand how to play them to your advantage. 

Yet for many of us, politics and ‘playing the game’ feels like a dirty concept. Is there a way that we can advance our own interests without making our colleagues collateral damage? In other words, is there a way to play the game without selling our soul? 

Knowing the difference between good and bad politics 

Although many people inherently think of office politics as a bad thing, political scientist and cultural researcher Harold Laswell doesn’t believe they have to be. In fact, Laswell encourages all people to think about politics as simply ‘the way things are done around here’ in any particular environment, and as such, know the difference between what ‘good’ and ‘bad’ politics might entail. 

In any organisation, and in any role, a degree of self-promotion in order to advance interests is needed. Good politics, then, is where you do so, but not at the expense of others or your organisation’s legitimate interests. For example, good politics may involve strategically making connections with important stakeholders or deliberating making an effort to better engage C-suite executives. Good politics, otherwise known as being savvy, well-networked, influential, an intelligent communicator and even a little charismatic, serve a higher purpose in that they help you get ahead – but don’t sacrifice others in the meantime. 

Bad politics are the opposite of this, though, and something we’ve all been a victim of. Bad politics are when you backstab, create rumours, or do something that you’d otherwise consider sneaky and immoral in order to advance your position. In other words, you advance yourself by sacrificing someone else. Bad politics feels bad because it is – and no amount of telling yourself that it’s “worth it” or they “deserved it” should help you feel better. Unfortunately, bad politics can help you get ahead, but the success that ensues is often short-lived. 

In reality, bad politics co-exists alongside good politics in most organisations. But in the best organisations, bad politics are stamped out and only good politics remain. And if you’re able to hone your good political skills, success can easily be yours. 

Honing your political skills 

The politics of the office are a far-cry from the politics of Downing Street or the White House. Yet are the skills required to play office politics that different? Not really. Here’s what culture researcher Gerald Ferris recommends are the essential skills make office politics work for you: 

  1. Social astuteness: Social astuteness is the next step beyond one of the most essential workplace traits: self-awareness. When you’re socially astute, you’re not just aware of yourself and your own strengths and weaknesses, but you’re also aware of how others perceive you and how your behaviour impacts them. For example, if you’re socially astute you’ll understand that Karen from HR doesn’t think too highly of procurement, and you’ll be proactively working to change that. 
  1. Interpersonal influence: We’ve talked extensively here at Procurious about why influence is important and we’re not going to stop anytime soon because it’s so true – your interpersonal influence is everything. Influence, defined as your ability to affect how and what others think, is essential in managing politics. But before you dive in to influencing your own agenda at work, it’s important to understand others and specifically, what their preferences and goals are. This way, you can personalise your approach to exact the greatest level of influence. 
  1. Exceptional networking: Networking skills are another of Procurious’s favourite topics for good reason – they are essential to success. As we’ve always maintained though, networking within an organisation needs to be a two-way street, and you need to ensure that you’re creating mutually beneficial relationships with people with whom you expect support from. 
  1. Sincerity: Politics has received such a bad rap before because people think it’s inherently dishonest. But to the contrary, good politics requires sincerity, honestly, and openness (or at least the appearance thereof, where complete transparency isn’t possible). If people around you perceive you as sincere, they’re more likely to trust and believe in you, which can help with advancing your cause. 

Politics may well be a dirty word, yet the outcome of playing good politics certainly is not. A plethora of research shows that having the above mentioned skills enhances not only job performance and satisfaction, but influence, salary, opportunities and advancement. So even if politics has never been your game, it’s time to participate to the best of your ability – your career success depends on it. 

What has been your experience with office politics? Do you typically see more bad politics than good politics? Let us know in the comments below.

Buying The Cheapest – The Biggest Myth About Procurement

Writing off Procurement as the department that finds things for the cheapest price is to write off a complex and important decision-making mechanism that expertly considers several vital factors over “buying cheapest”.


It is saddening how some organisations still think the only idea of Procurement is to buy the cheapest. This leads to numerous erroneous opinions about Procurement function and profession in general. Because of this myth, other departments within organisations try to avoid Procurement department while making strategic decisions. Consequently, in many instances those departments face numerous problems, such as poor service, substandard deliverable, late performance and even disappearing vendors.

It is important to instruct our colleagues and duly inform them about the role and significance of Procurement function in any organisation. It is important to bust Procurement myths.

First, in Procurement profession we do not even use the words “cheap”, “cheaper” or “cheapest”. These are banned words. Because the word “cheap” reflects many attributes, including quality. We say “lower in price” or “lowest-priced” or “less expensive” or “least expensive”.

Second, we never look at the price of goods, works or services, if we are not satisfied with the quality. Even if the price is $0.00. We are simply not interested in seeing the price of a bad quality product.

Third, we do not consider price if delivery schedule and delivery conditions are not what we requested. I.e. if medicines or other vital products are going to be delivered long after they are needed – why do we bother about the price at all?

Forth, most often we give zero attention to price if the company offering products or services is not qualified and reliable. Some exceptions might apply for new technologies, know-hows and monopolies.

Fifth, we do not consider price if a bidder disagrees with terms of the contract we envisage.

Only after all these criteria are met, Procurement starts reviewing, comparing prices.

So, in practice, we might review the prices of only 4 offers out of 20 offers received. The remaining 16 would be filtered out because of the criteria above that come before price.

But, there is “one more thing” (© Steve Jobs). Even comparing the prices at this stage does not mean the contract will be awarded to the lowest-priced offer. Buying organisation might have several other preferences, for example awarding the contract to a greener or more sustainable enterprise, or giving a preference to an SMEs, or local business, or businesses run by women, etc.

In other words, price is just one of those numerous factors Procurement considers.

Additionally, it is vital to acknowledge that while sourcing best value for the organization, Procurement wears two hats:

The first hat is for dealing with the final recipient of the product or service. Procurement needs to listen carefully and understand all the details and peculiarities of the final deliverable. The price of a mistake here is too high. Any concerns or alternative solutions should be properly discussed before going to market.

The second hat is for dealing with vendors. Here procurement needs to obtain the maximum value for the organisation, while keeping the vendors interested and motivated.

Negotiating in two fronts is difficult, but no one said Procurement is easy. Procurement is a complex and important decision-making mechanism that evaluates risks and offers solutions to guarantee the best value for money. It is certainly more than just buying the cheapest.

This article is based on series of lectures by Levon Hovsepyan organised in 2008-2014

This article was originally published on June 9th, 2020. Source: Procurement.org and has been republished here with permission.