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Supply Chain Sustainability School Built Environment Survey

16 May 2018 / by Supply Chain Sustainability School (author)
Photo by David McBee. (photo: David McBee)
Photo by David McBee. / (photo: David McBee)

Modern slavery, responsible sourcing, and community engagement have been identified as the priorities undergoing the biggest improvement in 2018, according to a sector-wide survey by the Supply Chain Sustainability School.


In the survey, more than 4 in every 5 companies achieving improved understanding of both Modern Slavery (82%) and Responsible Sourcing (81%) state that the School has helped them achieve these results. Some 2 out of 3 (66%) also attributed their increased levels of Community Engagement to assistance received from the School.


For Dale Turner, Director of Procurement and Supply Chain at Skanska UK, the School continues to be the go-to resource for increasing Sustainability knowledge and competence:

“One of the current key challenges in our industry is providing greater transparency through the tiers of our supply chain. The School’s resources are having a positive effect on Modern Slavery knowledge and increasing the focus on continuous improvement in this area. It’s also really encouraging to see improvement in Responsible Sourcing.”


The impact of the School is also highlighted for the same priority issues by Anne Smales, Head of Procurement and Supply Chain, London South East, Bouygues UK:

“The Supply Chain Sustainability School plays a key role in helping our supply chain to better understand major industry themes such as Modern Slavery and Responsible Sourcing, and as a Partner Member we are very pleased to support their work and continue to encourage our supply chain to use the plethora of great quality, free resources available.”


Alongside Modern Slavery and Responsible Sourcing, Community Engagement was the other topic most flagged as being of interest and impact for the School.


In the case of Ground Control Ltd, who have attended many events through the School and been an active participant in leading initiatives, this proved an area of significant opportunity, explains Client Relationship Manager, Keith Buckle:

“The School provided the perfect platform to discuss Community Engagement with one of our FM partners and as a result we are proud to say that we took steps to engage in, and subsequently became signatories to Ban The Box; a Business in the Community initiative which highlights how businesses can provide ex-offenders with the skills and employment opportunities that will help to turn their lives around.

“In a win-win for social and economic sustainability, supporting an initiative which hopefully may help to break the cycle of reoffending will also serve to provide our business with access to diverse, untapped talent.”


It is these kinds of direct changes to policy and practice, with multiple benefits and beneficiaries, that can prove most valuable when their impact is measured throughout the whole supply chain. Extending and amplifying these positive impacts should be the focus of future endeavours and efforts, concludes Ian Heasman, Director of Sustainability at Taylor Wimpey:

“The survey has started an important process of establishing the relationship between learning and impact, with good progress reported by members across some key themes. It also highlights some challenges ahead, including how to translate the benefits to individual client organisations; and how to increase impact at sectorial and industry-wide levels.”


The survey deliberately explored some 'must-try-harder' topics, where responses confirmed the construction sector is generally slow or perhaps reluctant to address its responsibilities and seize opportunities. Nevertheless, the School’s impact was strongly in evidence here too.


Whilst fewer than 1 in 5 respondents (18%) reduced their water consumption, for instance, and engagement on air quality issues was even lower, with under 1 in 6 (15%) achieving improvements, in at least half the cases where progress was made, the School was said to have helped.


The survey also revealed some discrepancies between the priorities of different sizes of businesses within the industry. Cutting Carbon appeared more of a focus for larger operations, for example, but Fairness, Inclusion & Respect (FIR) higher up the agenda for SMEs. The need to address any points of difference before they become sources of supply-chain disconnect will also help inform and bolster existing School programmes in these important areas.


There is clearly no room for complacency, says Chair of the Supply Chain Sustainability School, Shaun McCarthy OBE, when he observes:

“As well as providing a critical assessment of the positive impact of learning and support delivered by School itself, the survey also serves as something of a snapshot of the state of sustainability along the length of the entire construction supply chain. For all the undoubted progress made together, there remains much still to do and a long way to go to help build an industry fit for the future.”


Key Figures & Findings from the Impact Survey 2018

Major themes:

  • 63% have an improved understanding of Modern Slavery issues and 82% agree that the School has helped them achieve this progress;
  • 49% have an improved understanding of Responsible Sourcing and 81% agree that the School has helped them achieve this; plus
  • 45% have an increased level of Community Engagement and 66% agree that the School has helped them achieve this.

‘Must-try-harder' topics:

  • Of the 18% that reduced their water consumption, 50% agree the School helped them;
  • Just 15% improved their air quality, but 54% agree the School has helped them do so.

Points of difference:

  • Large businesses report reductions in carbon emissions 15% more often than SMEs;
  • SMEs say they have a better understanding of Fairness, Inclusion and Respect (FIR) issues 21% more often than large businesses.







Supply Chain Sustainability School


Supply Chain Sustainability School

Launched in 2012, the School is a multi-award-winning initiative which represents a common approach to addressing sustainability within supply chains. With more than 14,000 members, the School provides free practical support in the form of e-learning modules, tailored self-assessment and action plans, sustainability training and networking opportunities. The School is delivered by an independent third party, Action Sustainability. Leadership is provided by a School Board comprising elected representatives of Partners, responsible for fiscal governance and strategic direction. There is Code of Ethics signed by all Partners as part of the School Constitution. www.supplychainschool.co.uk

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