How to minimise risk through Responsible Sourcing

Ian Nicholson, Managing Director at Responsible Solutions discusses how to minimise risk through Responsible Sourcing ahead of CIRIA's, Minimising Risk through Responsible Sourcing - A Handbook for the Construction Industry, launch event next week.

We’ve seen Responsible Sourcing gain momentum in the construction industry over the past 10 years, and it has now become a key consideration for clients and sustainability awards schemes such as CEEQUAL and BREEAM. Sourcing products and materials responsibly is a way of managing sustainability issues through your supply chains, and includes a wide range of social and environmental aspects. 

There is no doubt that responsible sourcing provides a great opportunity to win more work, and gain a potential advantage over competitors. But there is another significant benefit that is often overlooked -  which is that Responsible Sourcing can be used to reduce business risk. 

As you are aware, supply chains in the construction industry can be extremely complex and far reaching, involving multiple tiers of contractors, subcontractors and suppliers. Construction projects use this complex, and often changeable, network to bring together huge volumes of products and materials in one place. Without a robust responsible sourcing strategy, you could be indirectly supporting suppliers linked to environmental exploitation, insufficient health and safety practices, and unethical labour issues such as child labour and modern slavery. 

Responsible sourcing can demonstrate commitment to sustainability, by taking into account social, environmental and economic considerations in purchasing decisions. Environmental impacts in supply chains, such as the carbon emissions associated with certain products, are becoming increasingly scrutinised by clients and customers. Also, since the Modern Slavery Act was introduced in 2015, companies are being placed under increasing pressure to look into the social risks in their supply chains. There have been several recent damaging media exposes of child labour, forced labour, and human trafficking being found in the supply chains of some of the largest corporations in the world. By embedding responsible sourcing into your specification and procurement process, the risks to your reputation could be greatly reduced. 

Another overlooked aspect of responsible sourcing is the supply of labour and temporary works. It’s all well and good increasing transparency in the supply chains of the products that end up in your building or structure, but what about the products and services that are needed to build it? The workers onsite? The cranes, diggers, and site hoarding that you need even before the building process starts? There are potential environmental and social risks hiding in the supply chains of these services that can’t be ignored. 

To fill these gaps in existing guidance, we are proud to have authored the new handbook that CIRIA are launching: “Minimising Risk through Responsible Sourcing - A Handbook for the Construction Industry”. The handbook is the first of its kind, and acts as a practical reference for construction and civil engineering projects. To create the Handbook, we worked closely with CIRIA and their Project Steering Group, made up of over 25 industry experts and chaired by Professor Jacqui Glass of Loughborough University. 

The handbook details the methods used to demonstrate responsible sourcing (for example, schemes, standards and product labels), and how sustainability can be embedded into procurement decisions. A set of 21 ‘Product Sheets’ detail product-specific impacts, along with a typical supply chain structure and some key questions to think about during procurement. The potential issues covered include: energy and water usage, health and safety risks, and unethical working practices. 

So, don’t miss out on the opportunities that responsible sourcing can bring. And, more importantly, don’t leave your business open to supply chain risks that could damage your reputation. Come along to the launch of the CIRIA Handbook to find out more about current landscape of responsible sourcing in construction, and to hear from key industry players and sustainability experts on how to minimise risk through responsible sourcing. 

London Launch Event

Marshalls Design Space, 1st Floor, Compton Courtyard, 40 Compton Street, Clerkenwell, London EC1V 0BD

Midlands Launch Event
Loughborough University, Epinal Way, Loughborough, Leicestershire, LE11 3TU