Government backs business standards awareness plan

13 December 2001
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13 December 2001 | David Arminas

The government is backing a major drive to ensure companies are aware of the pitfalls of ethical sourcing and trading.

Partnership Sourcing Limited (PSL) has contracted ethical trading consultancy Article 13 to offer advice to its clients.

"It's really about offering a more complete service, especially for clients who are moving into global sourcing," David Drake, senior project manager at PSL, told SM.

PSL was formed in 1990 as a non-profit organisation by the DTI and the Confederation of British Industry and is now self-financing. It offers advice on improving client-supplier relationships with partnering arrangements based on greater risks and reward sharing throughout the supply chain.

Jane Cumming, director of Article 13, said businesses will increasingly find their bottom lines affected by ethical issues.

"A lot of procurement efficiencies are already in place for many firms, but they want to understand ethical issues before they become a problem," she said.

Article 13 runs workshops and other meetings with the client and also with a client's suppliers in whatever country.

Les Pyle, PSL's new director-general, intends to promote partnering on a global scale. Pyle, former director of joint operations at international technology company Fujitsu, said many companies are extending partnering internationally and so all the issues affecting the global supply chain must be looked at.

Ethical trading's profile was raised in June when the Financial Times and the London Stock Exchange set up the FTSE4Good index, a list of companies meeting social responsibility criteria including ethical trading.

Several major companies now have ethical trading policies. BT has moved ethics up its supply chain agenda, according to Celia Gullen, procurement development manager at BT Affinitis. "BT's procurement function is at the centre of rolling out this strategy," she said.

This year, BT drew up a social responsibility standard for suppliers and added a commitment to social responsibility category in its annual supplier awards. Cable maker Pirelli won the award for a cable that saved BT £35 million, uses less copper and polymer and is easier to recycle.


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