Collaboration between competitors 'essential' to raise supply chain standards

25 July 2017

Collaboration between competing companies is essential to raise standards throughout the supply chain, according to Gary Salterpicco, procurement process and policy manager at John Lewis Partnership.

Salterpicco told SM that he believed rival companies in a sector needed to work together to eliminate modern slavery.

“Working alone, any one company cannot take the moral high ground; it is only the power of the collective that will raise standards and reduce the risks of modern slavery,” he said.

John Lewis is a member of the collaborative Sedex Goods-not-for-resale (GNFR) working group, which includes a number of other retail and banking organisation members, including Tesco, Co-op and Kingfisher. Members of the group work together to raise supplier awareness around worker welfare, particularly in labour intensive contracts, with the aim of establishing a set of minimum standards.

“We consider this to be an important collaboration on pre-competitive standards,” Salterpicco explained. “By standing firm together on our expectations of our supply chains we aim to send a strong message to all our suppliers that we will not tolerate poor standards.

“If suppliers want to do business with any of us, they must ensure they meet the standards that we are all committed to.”

Salterpicco was responding to a report from The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), covered in Supply Management, which revealed that business leaders are unwilling to collaborate on supply chain issues. According to the EIU study, only 27% of executives said they were willing to collaborate with non-competitor firms and 23% with their competitors.

The study also found that companies were failing to adequately tackle issues like child labour in their supply chains.

“Rather than a race to the bottom, we see the opportunity to collaborate on these issues as a race to the elimination of modern slavery in our supply chains,” said Salterpicco. “Yes, let’s compete at the tills but let’s also stand strong and proud that we are making a difference in the world and that profit doesn’t come before people.”

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