Blog • 04.04.23

Diversity in Supply Chains: A Key Enabler for Transparency, Compliance, and Resilience

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As part of our International Women’s Day 2023 activities, we hosted a webinar with Facilities Management Journal and our clients Sodexo, and Bunzl Catering Supplies to explore how FM professionals can deliver unique value to customers by driving diversity and creating an inclusive supply chain to help drive resilience and compliance.

In our latest blog, Gemma Archibald, Chief Executive Officer, Supply Chain Division at SafeContractor provides an insight from the webinar into why inclusion and effective management of a diverse supply chain is not a tick box exercise or just the right thing to do, but also hugely beneficial to organisations.

You can also watch to the full webinar recording here.

This comes at a time when a recent report shows that men out number women nine to one in FM leadership roles, which has pushed the diversity agenda into much more focus as the sector realises the benefits of having a diverse team and closing the gender gap. Therefore, there has never been a better opportunity for FM companies to make their mark internally and across their supply chain.

Why focus on the Facilities Management sector?

The UK is one of the largest markets for Facilities Management (FM) services in Europe, and while health and safety compliance has been a long-standing requirement, today it applies to more than just the safety of building occupants. It’s about delivering high-performing workplaces through a transparent, compliant, and resilient supply chain, while also respecting social value, the environment and sustainability.

With social outcomes a rising focus of organisational plans and priorities, FM providers will increasingly need to demonstrate their positive reach and impact. This has been heighted by the Procurement Policy Note 06/20 (PPN06/20) that came into effect in January 2020, imposing a 10% social value weighting on all Government contracts.

Who should be responsible for supply chain compliance and what risks should they be looking at?

To effectively manage the supply chain is everyone’s challenge and responsibility, which is why FM professionals are taking a more proactive approach to identifying, controlling and limiting their risks and applying this more rigorously to the contractors and suppliers they work with.

For FMs to meet compliance and wider ESG goals, an essential element is in evaluating, monitoring, and managing their supply chain. This should ideally start with a pre-qualification process to assess contractors and suppliers for potential risks and to demonstrate their legal compliance. It can also provide a much wider pool to choose from as you increase the diversity of who you work with and minimise the risks of onboarding unknown third-parties.

In a new era of supply chain due diligence and legislative changes, organisations now need to also look at capabilities across a range of business-critical areas beyond just health and safety, to also include aspects such as diversity, equity, modern slavery and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG).

Organisations cannot credibly claim that they’re tackling these critical areas unless they’re also engaging their supply chain in that journey. That’s also true for the organisations themselves, where it needs to be rigorously applied with tangible actions, values and behaviours from leadership through the entire business to create and promote the right culture.

Why is equity and diversity in the supply chain a rising focus?

Diversity within supply chains can make them more resilient, agile, adaptable and innovative. For FM organisations, working with diverse businesses means gaining a competitive advantage, winning more business, attracting talent and able to make quantifiable positive contributions to a fairer society.

Organisations that have a workforce that reflects the communities in which they operate statistically outperform the competition. And, diverse organisations perform better as they encourage and understand varied perspectives, tap into different markets, and make better decisions.

As Gemma Archibald, Chief Executive Officer, Supply Chain Division at SafeContractor says: “At SafeContractor, we focus on equity instead of equality, recognising that everyone doesn’t start on an equal footing in life. By becoming an even more diverse and inclusive workplace, we create a community where everyone feels included and that they belong here.”

Some major companies have addressed inequality through supplier diversity programmes that promote an inclusive approach to procurement. One example is UPS whose programme that started in 1992 grew from its focus to be more inclusive and do what is right. They now spend $2.6 billion annually doing business with around 6,000 small and diverse suppliers with a goal to increase that spend amount each year.

Why is data visibility important across the supply chain?

One of the biggest challenges is data visibility, which has seen an unstoppable shift towards the use of technology to capture and shape sustainability performance and outcomes. ESG technology has therefore become pivotal to digitise processes that help to track, manage, report and improve sustainable outcomes and meet ESG goals.

Real time insight via digital dashboards and reporting tools provide a much deeper analysis of your supply chain. With access for key stakeholders across your organisation, you can support informed decisions and operational process. And, you can also prove a robust audit trail of compliance via ‘live’ information into your supply chain through a single shared view.

By digitally connecting your organisation to gain one true view of your supply chain, you can understand the true story behind the scenes, increase visibility into all stages of work with contractors and suppliers and make informed decisions.

From sourcing, procuring, and contracting through to the ongoing work provided by contractors, organisations need to assure themselves that they:

  • Have clear visibility of all contractors in the supply chain
  • Gain evidence that they comply with the relevant regulatory and legal requirements, or at a minimum meet best practice standards
  • Routinely monitor the health and safety of contractors
  • Regularly assess the operational, ethical, and financial risk of contractors

What are the risks of not managing contractors and suppliers?

For the FM sector, those who want to stay ahead of the game and realise tendering opportunities to win new contracts will need to demonstrate not only their organisation’s credibility, but the credibility of their supply chain as well.

The challenges of not adapting?

  • Increased liability from unverified businesses working in your supply chain
  • Higher costs due to ineffective processes and limited use of technology solutions
  • Time-consuming manual processes and additional resources required
  • Potential fines
  • Brand damage

As Gemma Archibald, Chief Executive Officer, Supply Chain Division at Alcumus concludes: “Organisations simply cannot afford to run the risk of working with contractors or suppliers who are not able to prove that they have sound health, safety and ethical policies in place. It’s a balance of profit and purpose.”


Find out how our technology, people and expertise gives organisations insight into the resilience of their supply chain.

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