16 October 2003 | Liam O'Brien
British companies continue to view corporate social responsibility (CSR) issues as secondary to the traditional purchasing criteria of price, whole-life costing and security of supply, according to a CIPS study.
The poll of more than 100 UK purchasing directors and managers shows that 83 per cent are told to focus on those issues at the expense of environmental impact, ethics and human rights.
The research found 87 per cent of purchasers attempt to follow the CIPS code of ethics, but only 66 per cent of senior management teams and boards follow one.
Ken James, CIPS chief executive, said that the results highlighted the need to flag up CSR.
"The issues of price and whole-life costing are important, but the purchaser must make sure that the board is aware of the potential damage to a corporate reputation of having a poor CSR record," he said.
"The challenge to the professional purchaser is whether they are happy that their business is taking risks with reputation. A company can have the best prices and the most secure supply chain, but all will be for nothing if it is found to be dealing unethically."
• The Department of Trade and Industry has set up a steering group to look at CSR, with a view to creating a corporate social responsibility academy in the summer of 2004.
Clive Mather, chairman of Shell UK, will head the group, which will consult with businesses to decide how to embed CSR into mainstream business practice.