Supply Chain School

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Employment, Skills and 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.

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. Supply chains expect prompt payment, and may suffer if payments are made late.

In turn, the  supply chain should also act in an ethical manner.  This includes the identification and management social risk in the supply chain; for example, poor labour standards and human rights violations within the supply chain. There are many 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 often set out their expectations of their own people and their supply chains in a Code of Ethics or Ethics Statement . As such, there is a competitive advantage for suppliers who can demonstrate an understanding of ethics and how they are able to comply with client requirements.  

Self Assessment Tool

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