A public duty

15 March 2011
David Noble, chief executive, Chartered Institute of Purchasing & SupplyProfessional bodies have a moral – and usually legal – obligation to serve the public interest. CIPS certainly does. All chartered bodies 
are set up “for the benefit of the public”, because that’s what professionalism is all about. It’s both a recognition and an expectation that professionals, through their expertise and commitment to an ethical code of conduct, have a positive and beneficial impact on society and corporate life. It’s about promoting best-in-class procurement in the organisations we work for, whether that’s the responsible management of our impact on the environment or helping to stamp out corrupt practices where we see them. Yet CIPS is also a registered charity, with a mandate to promote education and provide access to educational opportunities in procurement and supply management. We provide a lot of information free of charge, ranging from website downloads to the advice we give to governments. And although we charge for our qualifications, in line with other institutes and educational bodies, we do have a responsibility to enable people from any background to achieve a professional qualification. We have a saying here at Easton House: “We don’t do things to make money, we make money to do things.” The commercial elements of CIPS provide us with income that we can then invest in delivering our strategy. Building our reserves also means that we can afford to do things that are genuinely charitable without taking essential funding away from our core activities of education and member support. The CIPS Southern Africa Trust is a great example of what I’m talking about. We have made a commitment to transfer surplus funds from our Southern Africa operations into an educational trust, set up to provide educational opportunities for black South Africans who otherwise would not be able to afford the full cost of CIPS education. My vision for CIPS is to see this model rolled out globally to create educational opportunities in every region where CIPS establishes a subsidiary institute. And I’m not forgetting the UK. This is not just down to me, or CIPS Council: every member can play a part. Over the coming months we will be developing our public benefit strategy. Part of that will be to collect examples of members giving their procurement expertise as volunteers to help their communities. I have had a fair amount 
of anecdotal evidence so far of some 
great things our members are doing and 
I know that is just the tip of the iceberg. It will also, I hope, inspire others to do the same. PMI reports need you I never fail to be amazed by the amount of interest in the Purchasing Managers’ Indices (PMIs) each month. As a snapshot of how the UK economy is faring, it’s certainly one of the most accurate, 
and one of the most timely, ahead of official government figures which lag months behind. Even the Bank of England uses the data. I’m proud that CIPS is associated with the PMIs, and that the procurement and supply profession plays an important role in reflecting what is actually happening on the ground. Of course, the value of any survey is its accuracy and we constantly need new panel members to maintain the quality and currency of the data. It takes only 10 minutes to 
complete the short monthly questionnaire. As well as knowing your input is valuable, the reports are available free to participants. So it’s well worth getting involved. For details and to join up email: trudy.salandiak@cips.org
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