Construction companies must prioritise responsible sourcing over a traditional cost-saving ethos, an event was told.
Ian Nicholson, managing director of consultants Responsible Solutions, said the construction industry had escaped the scrutiny the apparel industry had experienced over supply chain ethics, but it would soon be subjected to similar expectation around transparency.
Speaking at the launch of the Construction Industry Research and Information Association’s (CIRIA) handbook Minimising risk through responsible sourcing, Nicholas said: “We have to go beyond cost/quality practices that businesses traditionally lean towards when sourcing material and start thinking about social and environmental considerations of our supply chain because not to do so brings added risks.
“The biggest risk to a company’s reputation is getting your name in the headlines and generally as an industry we’ve escaped scrutiny—although there has been some companies caught up in the Qatar 2022 headlines— it is a key driver for us to tackle this issue but also an opportunity for us to get on the front foot to minimise that potential risk.”
CIRIA’s handbook said responsible sourcing was the management of sustainability issues throughout the supply chain, including social, environmental, governance and ethical aspects.
Also speaking at the launch, Eva Gkenakou, sustainability director of Multiplex Construction Europe, said although the global supply chain had thrown up challenges around traceability of components and access to human rights and labour conditions, to not responsibly source material could lead to ‘disaster’.
“We work on many iconic projects which have a lot of press around them so we need to absolutely get it right when sourcing material,” she said.
“One iconic project we are working on is in Leicester Square—you could imagine what would happen if our core materials were inferior or failed—it would be a total disaster.”
Gkenakou added that for responsible sourcing to mature, the potential supply chain risks, namely the impacts associated with sourcing of products or labour needed to be better understood and taken into account at the decision making stage.
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