Half of UK firms admit they are not transparent about supply chains

UK businesses admit they are not being transparent enough with consumers and customers about the true sustainability of their supply chains, according to research by the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS).

The survey of 318 UK supply chain managers revealed that nearly half (48%) do not believe their organisation is transparent enough with consumers, clients and regulators about sustainability, with 19% admitting they don’t even know how sustainable their products are themselves. However, only 5% feel their marketing actively misleads clients or customers about sustainability.

CIPS says that the survey suggests a surprising lack of procurement involvement in setting corporate sustainability strategy in the UK is at least partly to blame. Much of the UK’s carbon footprint is generated abroad, several tiers down the supply chain in the extraction of raw materials, manufacturing of products and transportation. The procurement function has a crucial role in understanding, measuring and addressing the sustainability of this supply chain but 1 in 5 (19%) of UK supply chain managers said they were not involved at all in their organisation’s sustainability strategy, while 43% said they were only lightly involved. A further 18% said they were unaware of any corporate sustainability strategy at all.

Malcolm Harrison, group CEO at CIPS, said: “The choices UK businesses make ripple through their supply chains to impact everything from water security and carbon emissions, to waste management and deforestation in other countries. Much of an organisation’s environmental impact will be outside their internal boundaries, and it is important that organisations understand this complexity so they can begin to track, communicate, and address the sustainability of their own unique supply chain.

“Sustainability strategy must be led by the CEO but it requires input from across the business and procurement is perhaps the most crucial ingredient. Supply chain managers can take a more active role by improving their skills in this area and being more vocal internally about the importance of supply chains in addressing sustainability issues. We all have a role to play to help meet our climate change goals and the time to act is now.”

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