Hard to create but easy to lose, a good reputation is now an essential business asset – the safeguarding of which is inextricably entwined with your supply chain. The toughest thing for supply chain directors is that any perception of a flaw in the ethics of your suppliers can damage your hard-fought brand value. Even if exoneration comes after the media event, the damage is done. “All legal safeguards are in place and up to date, with best practice followed throughout,” reads a statement that could have come from any corporation in damage limitation mode.
In this case, the story appeared in the Guardian
over the weekend reporting a protest by Unite. The union has alleged “abuse of vulnerable workers” employed by agencies supplying food producer Thanet Earth Marketing.
A company statement from Thanet says: “The allegations made by Unite have related wholly to cases of people employed by agencies, and there are no instances of allegations relating to employees of Thanet Earth Marketing. All of the agencies used by Thanet Earth are fully licensed and audited by the Gangmasters Licensing Authority
What more was the firm supposed to do? If anything, the salutary tale gives procurement the evidence it needs to make the case that the function needs go beyond legal and regulatory requirements where these kinds of risks put the company in the glare of the public eye. But I suspect such a call to the board would be batted back, putting the buyers between a reputational rock and a cost-base hard place.