Supply chain diversity improves innovation and reputation

26 October 2017

Diversifying your supply chain brings innovation and improves business credentials, according to the head of procurement at pharmaceutical firm Roche.

Speaking at the 2017 CIPS Annual Conference, Justin Lambert, head of procurement at Roche, told delegates that ensuring good practice across supply chains starts in procurement. That means procurement professionals should listen to customers to know what is coming and diversify across their supply chain.

“There is still a focus on diversity in the workplace,” he said, “But we need to diversify supply chains to buy the right way.”

He explained that many people in procurement will have seen that bringing a diverse group of people – different cultures, gender and life experiences – around a table for a discussion produces a much richer conversation.

Apply that rule with suppliers, he advised. It can bring innovation and help provide solutions for the future generation of customers, which in the case of Roche is patients.

Lambert said he invited a nine-month-old company, set up by two women, to pitch for work. “They blew us away with their passion, creativity and will to deliver,” he said. “We have had to put in additional security, but in procurement you have to take some risks.”

Such inclusive business practices ensure moral and economic benefits of managing the social impact of the supply chain, which is vital for a business, he added. “The next generation, Generation Alpha, are the ones who had the phone attached from birth. And they want to work for companies that have good credentials.”

When procurement is ruuning through a sourcing team, he said professionals should ask themselves: “Have you invited everyone, have you connected with people who can help you find small, innovative suppliers?”

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