Bus and train operator Go-Ahead Group has announced a sustainable procurement charter that includes the elimination of zero-hours contracts and unpaid internships for all suppliers.
The charter includes minimum standards for certain areas – including unpaid work and optimisation of local employment and procurement – alongside aspirational goals around gender, diversity, climate action and SME participation. For these goals suppliers will be encouraged to collaborate with Go-Ahead and offer solutions.
The charter was drawn up in consultation with suppliers including Michelin, Siemens and Alexander Dennis with support from consultancy Action Sustainability.
Weightings and criteria in tenders will also reflect the charter and it will be followed up in KPIs and at supplier relationship management meetings.
The charter will apply for all Go-Ahead’s 4,000 suppliers, though most focus will be placed on around 50 key strategic suppliers.
Go-Ahead, which has annual revenues of around £3.5bn and supplier payments of £1.9bn, runs train services under the Govia Thameslink Railway and Southeastern franchises, along with bus services across the country.
Work on the charter was prompted by a Department for Transport requirement that contractors be compliant with the sustainability standard ISO 20400.
Jeremy Marshall, group procurement director at Go-Ahead, told SM: “We were audited against that standard. Out of that exercise it highlighted to us there were things we needed to do.
“Are we the finished article? I don’t know but we are moving in the right direction.
“I think what we have done is above and beyond what our client is asking. Our aspiration is to be best-in-class in this area.”
Glyn Watts, group head of rail procurement at Go-Ahead, told SM the main challenge was addressing a disconnect between their sustainability strategy and communicating this to suppliers.
“We had to address our gaps,” he said. “Our major gap is linking what we get our suppliers to focus on and our sustainability strategy.”
Marshall said the challenge was now to roll out the charter across the supply chain.
Watts said: “Next time we run a tender we can use them [the criteria]. Before it was whole-life cost, safety and some environment. This charter is saying, ‘There’s way more’.”
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