Tackling the big, complex issues

Rebecca Ellinor Tyler is former editor of Supply Management
10 August 2015

Few companies consider the effect of what they buy on, for example, biodiversity, says Rebecca Ellinor.

“Until mother nature sets up a back office with an invoice system, behaviour won’t change and natural resources can be used indiscriminately,” says Chris Brett, global head of sustainability at Olam International, in this issue’s cover feature. The food producer believes that putting a price on carbon and other externalities is the only answer.

In our article on natural capital, we also hear from sports and luxury brand company Kering, which has created an environmental profit and loss tool to attempt to calculate the cost of economic ‘hotspots’ in the supply chain.

While lots of companies are worried about ongoing availability and price of resources including energy and water, few consider the effect of what they buy on, for example, biodiversity. These are big, complex issues and it takes true leaders to dare to do things differently.

Social value is another issue that is slowly catching on. UK public sector organisations are compelled to consider it when they commission services but now businesses are voluntarily working to ensure their purchases bring about economic, environmental or societal benefits.

One is FMCG giant Johnson & Johnson which is targeting social enterprises that help improve people’s health and provide employment to those who would otherwise find it difficult, such as ex-offenders.

Fittingly daring to be different, to step up, speak out and act are the themes of CIPS events this year. ‘Raise your game, raise your voice’ is the title of the UK Annual Conference in October, for which you can now buy tickets (www.cipsannualconference.com).

One way in which the institute seeks to give something back is through the CIPS Foundation, a registered charity to help those struggling to get into or progress in the profession as a result of hardship, illness, discrimination or political unrest.

One student who has recently benefitted is Umuroo Budha Duba from Kenya. His family’s income is just £130 a year and the grant he received will, in his words, “turn his life around for the better”.

It’s amazing what the profession is able to do.

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