Procurement at Reckitt Benckiser (RB) has been improved through a project to understand how suppliers view the company, an event was told.
David Pettet, social and human rights senior manager at RB, said the project involved around 70 suppliers “to obtain from them a better understanding of their view of us and our procurement practices”.
Speaking at the CIPS Embracing Sustainable Procurement Breakfast Briefing, Pettet said it was important for RB – maker of Dettol and Durex – to “source and manufacture our products in a way that respects the environment and human rights”.
He said day-to-day procurement and operational practices should “facilitate rather than hinder the delivery of that ambition”.
“If we expect suppliers to comply with working hours, that is quite challenging if our planning isn’t consistent, our lead times are short and we expect our suppliers to meet our demands fairly quickly,” Pettet said.
“There is wider focus now from NGOs and civil society on procurement practices and how they potentially impact a supplier’s ability to protect human rights and the environment.”
RB partnered with ratings platform Better Buying on the project and Pettet said commercial benefits from the work included increased supply chain resilience, higher quality and on-time delivery. “There are other commercial benefits that can be derived from more partnership, collaborative relationships with your suppliers,” he said.
Pettet said as a result of the project the procurement team had to consider payment terms and improved planning, but RB was now perceived as a preferred partner and a “company that conducts business with integrity”.
Speaking as part of a panel, Marsha Dickson, president and co-founder of Better Buying, said procurement practices such as inaccurate forecasts, delayed or shifting product design requirements, and failing to pay for orders in full and on time “make problems for suppliers and workers”. But they can’t give honest feedback because it risks damaging commercial relationships.
“Supply chain power dynamics have all but eliminated the voice of suppliers who are in many areas best suited to innovate and overcome challenges related to production,” she said.
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