We are often asked how best to promote fairness, inclusion and respect through supply chains. It can be a tricky business; the wrong decisions can cost your supply chain thousands and push them further backwards. It’s therefore important to understand how you can be most effective, what help is available and more importantly, how you can make sure fairness, inclusion and respect is seen as a business improvement tool, not a hurdle to jump over.
Here are five ways; you can…
- Treat them with respect. You must practice what you preach, if you are not fair to your supply chain how can you ask them to be fair to theirs? Often late payments drive a false self-employment model in sub-contracting companies which make fairness, inclusion and respect difficult to achieve; therefore the biggest impact to your supply chain might be to ensure your have a fair payment policy. This might sound like a big step but with the current skills shortage, becoming known as an ‘employer of choice’ could provide a winning long-term strategy for everyone.
- Listen to them. You won’t find out how to effectively support your supply chain unless you build trust with them. This will enable them to tell you the barriers they might face in creating an inclusive and fair culture. This is especially important if the barriers are something that you might be able to influence.
- Encourage them. Recognise their best practice and celebrate it, not just as part of the tender (though this should be part of it) but also on site, in your internal and external newsletters and in your publicity. You’ll be surprised how much people appreciate it when you notice their hard work.
- Support them. Appreciate your supply chain is usually smaller than you, which can make it harder for them to do the leg-work. So why not hold on-site training days to decrease the cost for staff – create toolbox talks (or use Constructing Equality Ltd.’s free ones) around fairness, inclusion and respect for them, or direct them towards industry tools such as the CITB Be Fair framework. Be Fair provides supporting documents and action plans that reduce the resource and labour cost to the business and attracts funding to cover financial costs.
- Value them. Make sure fairness, inclusion and respect forms part of your invitation to tender whether or not it’s asked for by the client. Ensure companies know that if they do take up this agenda you will consistently reward them for it. Use tools such as CITB’s Be Fair framework which includes a behavioural assessment to ensure they are doing what they say they are doing and not just completing the right paper work.
Then, once you’ve done all of that tell us so that we can promote your best practice and let you gain a little recognition for all of your hard work…