Ethical Futures – Ethical Sourcing and Sustainable Supply Chains

At Livingston James we look to support our portfolio of clients, candidates, and communities by connecting experienced experts to our networks to provide advice and stimulate debate across a range of ethical business discussion points.

April 2021 saw the launch of our Ethical Futures seminars.  At the inaugural event we heard from our cross-sector panel of leaders on their thoughts on the importance of ethical sourcing and how embracing a sustainable supply chain will deliver financial and operational benefits. In this seminar we combined industry views across Renewable Energy, Manufacturing and Food and Drink.

Chaired by Livingston James Executive Search Directors Jacqui Paterson and Sophie Randles, our audience heard from keynote speaker Malcolm Harrison – Group CEO, CIPS (Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply) and an expert panel including Andrew Jamieson – CEO, ORE Catapult, Andrew Shannon – Partner, Circularity Capital, and Alex Jennings – CPO, DS Smith Packaging.  You can view Malcolm Harrison’s introduction to the event here.  A full recording of the seminar is also available on request.

The event was held under Chatham House rules, however we have summarised some of the key points below.

Ethical Sourcing within the Supply Chain

Not surprisingly, businesses often wonder where to begin their ethical sourcing journey. This agenda of sustainability and corporate responsibility is not only central to business strategy, but it is key to business growth and to meet the needs of society.  During the panel discussions, it was made clear by all that no one can deny how important a sustainable and ethically sourced supply chain is.  Everyone, and we mean everyone, is paying attention.

Companies are striving to understand the environmental impacts to their businesses and how to respond to the increasing market pressure driven by investors, consumers, the media, regulators, and other stakeholders. However, it seems, the range of methods and applications available and the lack of unified regulations are preventing businesses from meeting all of these challenges on their own.

The panel advocated passionately for the need for collaboration amongst competitors and a genuine desire to positively impact the local communities in which they operate. Our speakers highlighted how everyone has a role to play in making our planet more sustainable. There were some very persuasive statistics discussed which further highlighted the importance of an ethical supply chain, not only to minimise reputational risk and be, an employer of choice but because these issues are critical to sustain society. Steps need to be taken to address modern slavery, fraud and corruption, and to reduce carbon footprint, as well as investigating new methods of ethically sourcing raw materials whilst managing the growing pressure on margins.

Identify the Opportunity

Sustainability issues pose a unique set of challenges and afford a distinct set of opportunities to every sector.  If you set up your supply chain with a strong foundation of ethical principles, you will avoid greater long-term costs and reputational damage, and gain the support from your key stakeholders.

The transition of priorities within supply chain has been seismic and now more than ever the focus is placed on value. Businesses need to rethink and reposition their model, be proactive in driving innovation, place significant importance on circular processes,  move away from the traditional box ticking exercise and own their problems. There must be a deeper and closer understanding and relationship between a business’s supply chain and customers to ensure supply chain competency and that it is fit for purpose.

Society is demanding an ethical future and businesses will need to ensure they keep up, to not only remain profitable, but to remain relevant in the eye of the consumer.

In Summary

For leading businesses, assessing the risks that all stakeholders face can create rich opportunity. Such opportunity can attract and motivate stakeholders, employees and alleviate shareholder concerns. The ongoing challenge of ensuring action and communication on operating an ethical and sustainable supply chain remains critical for businesses hoping to prosper on this one planet given to them.

Livingston James would like to thank our expert panel Malcolm Harrison, Andrew Jamieson, Andrew Shannon, and Alex Jennings for providing their insights and stimulating debate.  Thanks also to our delegates for attending the session.

To take part in future Ethical Futures seminars or for a confidential discussion around leadership opportunities please contact Sophie Randles, Director or Jacqui Paterson, Director at Livingston James on [email protected] or  [email protected]

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