Supply Chain School

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Employment, Skills & Ethics

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Companies operating in the built environment employ a wide range and number of people. It is vitally important that our directly employed workforce, temporary or contingent labour and the workforce of our supply chains have the skills we need, and are treated fairly, so that they can work their best. 

There are a number of issues that we must consider in order to achieve a productive workforce. We should think about the terms under which people are employed (e.g. use of zero hours contracts, working time directives) the wages we pay (e.g. minimum wage, living wage) and how we develop the skills we need within our workforce (e.g. apprenticeships, training). We should consider the conditions in which people work (addressed, for example, by gangmaster regulations and the Modern Slavery Act) and how we make sure that everyone is treated with equality, fairness, inclusion and respect so that we attract and talent from our country’s increasingly diverse talent pool.

Our clients and other stakeholders increasingly expect that companies operating in the built environment behave ethically. Ethical behaviour includes tackling corruption (e.g. compliance with the Bribery Act), acting transparently, having high standards of business ethics and human rights and facilitating whistleblowing. Our clients expect us to price fairly. Our supply chains expect prompt payment. 

We, in turn, should expect our supply chain to act ethically. This might require us to identify and manage social risk in our supply chain; for example, poor labour standards and human rights violations in mines and factories that our stakeholders would find unacceptable. There are schemes and standards to help address this, including SA 8000 for labour standards, the Ethical Trading Initiative base code and SEDEX.

Leading clients and contractors might set out their expectations of their own people and of their supply chains in a Code of Ethics equivalent. Suppliers might have to demonstrate compliance with this during a tender process and as part of contract management process and procedures. 

Issues Covered
UN global compact, ETI base code, Business ethics, Fair payment terms, Fair pricing, Equalities and diversity plans, Supply chain social risk management, Legislation (Bribery act, Gangmaster regulations, Working time directive, Single equalities act), SA 8000 for labour standards.

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