The risk factor

7 May 2013
Rebecca Ellinor, managing editor, Supply ManagementWant to get your business to 
consider sustainability, but don’t know how? 
Try talking to them about risk.

That’s the advice of Professor Andrew Douglas from the University of the West of England. Addressing buyers at the Sustainable Purchasing & Supply Summit in London last month as he helped launch the CIPS Sustainability Index, Douglas said people now see the sustainability agenda as a way of managing risk.

“Linking them together as your initial premise 
for doing something different resonates extremely quickly in most organisations,” he said. Just days after he highlighted the connection, tragedy struck – again – when the eight-storey 
Rana Plaza garment factory in Savar, Bangladesh, collapsed. This happened only months after a fire devastated 
the Tazreen factory in the 
same country. Around 500 
people lost their lives in 
these two incidents alone. Big name brands connected – knowingly or otherwise – to these factories have since issued statements about what they intend to do to support the families of those who died and how they will put measures in place to prevent future tragedies. As Adam Leach points out in this issue’s 
news focus, it is the failings or perceived failings that tend grab the headlines more than 
the good work done by organisations under 
the broad term of sustainability, which is why 
risk is key. And we know risk is on the agenda of your finance chiefs. I recently attended a conference hosted by The Economist at which financial directors from all sectors shared their concerns about managing all the potential risks that can 
hit a business – reputational and financial impacts being just two of them. Generally seen as covering social, environmental and economic criteria in purchasing decisions – corporate social responsibility by another name – sustainability is gaining momentum. Ensure your organisation doesn’t get left behind.
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