This month has seen the launch of one of the best sustainable supply chain initiatives I have ever been involved in. For the past two years we have been working quietly behind the scenes to develop the ‘Supply Chain Sustainability School
’ which was launched this week and covered in Supply Management
online the same day.
This is a natural progression from the work of the Sustainable Procurement Task Force
in 2005 and the development of the standard for sustainable procurement BS 8903 in 2010. As I said at the evening launch event, you can sustainably procure until the cows come home, but if you do not have a supply chain with the fundamental competence to support your ambitions, you will fail.
Now; thanks to our construction industry partners Skanska, Morgan Sindall, Kier, Sir Robert McAlpine, Willmott Dixon, Lend Lease and Aggregate Industries, we are able to do something about this; not for one client but for a whole industry sector, and not just regionally, but for the whole of the UK. Thanks also to the Construction Industry Training Board for their generous funding to start up the initiative and to my co-director Ian Heptonstall and our brilliant team for making it all happen.
This is an initiative for the iPad generation, it is a virtual learning environment that works on your laptop, smartphone or tablet device, you can learn at the railway station, between meetings or anywhere you like. However, you can’t have an app for everything, so we also have events, face-to-face training and someone at the end of the phone if you need advice. This is a school for the 200,000 suppliers in the construction industry to have an opportunity to have a highly prioritised and bespoke learning experience about all aspects of sustainability supported by six of their major clients. It will grow as the agenda changes, as knowledge improves and as more partners recognise its value.
At the evening launch event it was great that my old friend and mentor Jonathan Porritt was able to come along and launch the school. Jonathan was a great help in setting up my London 2012 Commission and we worked together on the Sustainable Procurement Task Force in 2005. He was wholeheartedly supportive of this type of dynamic private sector initiative. He also took the opportunity to have a swipe at the pathetic response of the world’s governments at Rio +20. The next day we really got down to work with 200+ suppliers but we had another A-list celebrity from the sustainability world: Tony Juniper gave a breath-taking presentation and offered a ringing endorsement for the school, saying that other sectors should follow this lead. I think we will look back at June 2012 as the time that sustainable supply chain management came of age in the construction industry.
As you can imagine I am very excited about all this, but the best feedback of the two days came from Graham Edgell, procurement director of Morgan Sindall, who has been a great supporter of everything we have tried to do. Sat next to me at the supplier event he leaned over and said: “Your team have done such a fantastic job of this Shaun, they are a credit to your business.” A person can go through a whole career and never have feedback like that. It made me very proud. Thanks to everybody who has supported this work.
Now we just need to deliver it.