21 September 2006 | Rebecca Ellinor
A focus on corporate social responsibility has yielded savings of £1.5 million this year for PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Addressing delegates at the Hotel Booking Agents Association (HBAA) annual conference this month, Iain Palfreman, head of sourcing at PwC, said CSR should be treated as an opportunity and not a threat. "It's not a fad, it won't go away. It's an increasingly important subject for corporates and customers alike."
When asked what PwC's CSR policy costs the firm, Palfreman replied: "The cost saving to us of having corporate responsibility policies this year is about £1.5 million, so it's making us money. "In the worst case it's cost-neutral. It's not an annoying thing that's just for bureaucracy. It's an opportunity rather than a cost."
He said PwC's reasons for getting into CSR were three-fold: reputation; in order to meet the expectations of customers and clients; and because they want to be a great place to work.
He said he would consider paying more for a supplier with good CSR credentials. Palfreman said the firm had reviewed its selection criteria and in the future, cost, quality, timeliness, service and responsiveness from suppliers and corporate responsibility, would all have equal weighting in the purchase of commodities.He said the company also uses a CSR questionnaire to assess the performance of suppliers, asking them to provide evidence to back claims they make. He said the score achieved on this evaluation may lead to the exclusion of some suppliers.
Palfreman added that PwC has gone carbon neutral from this month and already obtains its energy from renewable sources.