Century up for Supply Chain Sustainability School!

With over 40,000 registered users, more than 14,000 member companies and another 12,000 individual members, the Supply Chain Sustainability School is used to big numbers, but it has just added another of special significance: its 100th Partner — the UK’s leading developer and manager of retirement communities, McCarthy & Stone.

For the new Partner, enrolment in the Supply Chain Sustainability School is seen as a fundamental part of the ‘procurement transformation’ journey and the company’s commitment to being a sustainable business, explains Kathryn Gillard, Group Procurement Director, McCarthy & Stone:

“We are delighted to be the 100th Partner. Our FY21 procurement strategy sets out our desire to upskill our people and supply chain; and being part of the School will help us to achieve this ambition.”

The Supply Chain Sustainability School is a multi-award-winning initiative which represents a common approach to addressing sustainability within supply chains. Led by a Board comprising elected representatives of Partners, the School provides free practical support in the form of e-learning modules, tailored self-assessment and action plans, training, events and networking, delivered by an independent third-party consultancy, Action Sustainability.

Partners include clients, major contractors and key suppliers; all with one mission — to deliver more efficient and sustainable projects. They set the strategic direction of the School, identify key issues and ensure good governance. As commercial supporters of the School, Partners also receive a full package of benefits.

Successfully passing the 100-Partner milestone demonstrates the importance of the School to the future of the industry as a whole, especially in a post-pandemic market. This is no time for the School, its Partners and Members to rest on their laurels, however — this is a time to be forward-looking and part of the solution to the challenges the industry faces, says Director of the Supply Chain Sustainability School, Ian Heptonstall:

“The sector faces three major challenges: decarbonisation, productivity and talent. With 100 Partners providing a consistent and clear message to the supply chain, the School is an enabler of the transformative change needed. Through initiatives such as the People Matter Charter, supply-chain carbon footprinting, plus award-winning online learning around sustainability, digital, offsite and lean construction, we can lead the drive to ‘Build Back Better’.”

Founding Vision and Rapid Growth

Launched in 2012, the Supply Chain Sustainability School has come a long way over the last eight years, but still thrives on working to meet new and rising industry demand, constantly adapting and growing over time, says founding Partner Skanska UK’s Director of Procurement and Supply Chain, Dale Turner:

“The School continues to go from strength to strength and is the UK’s leading supplier-engagement sustainability tool. Our virtual collaborative Supplier Days are now packed with positive experiences and presentations from supply chain Members on what the School means to them and how they are progressing on their sustainability journey.”

For Dr Shamir Ghumra, BREEAM Director at BRE, reaching 100 Partners shows just how rapidly and powerfully the original vision for the School of making an impact on sustainability outcomes has truly become a reality:

“To have seen the School grow from the seven of us who founded it to now reaching this 100-Partner milestone is incredible. It really demonstrates that the School model of providing sustainability training to the supply chain free of charge is an essential service and one that has helped thousands of individuals over the past few years.”

To fellow Founder and Director of Sustainability and Procurement, at Morgan Sindall, Graham Edgell,achieving over 100 Partners actually comes as no surprise. In fact, given the world-class collaboration in evidence throughout the School, it was actually inevitable, he argues:

“The Supply Chain Sustainability School continues to thrive and reach new heights. In such a short time, it has become the go-to for sustainability learning and best practice in an industry that normally sees initiatives come and go. The sector will need the School even more if we are to meet the challenges ahead.”

The People Matter Charter

Launched in January this year, the People Matter Charter provides a perfect example of the ability of the School to help companies find the answers to key questions the industry needs to address – in this case, people challenges, relating to both their own workforce and their supply chain, from diversity and skills shortages, to modern slavery.

With recognition growing that systemic change around such issues cannot be delivered alone, being a Partner of the School is now becoming the norm for organisations wanting to work together to make a difference for the long term, suggests Nathalie Ritchie, Supply Chain Sustainability Manager, Global Procurement, at National Grid:

“We recognise we need to use our influence as a client in the sector to communicate our expectations and drive positive change. Having a common People Matter Charter that the industry can endorse and promote is fundamental to ensure alignment and focus attention on what matters, our people.”

The Climate Action Group

Tackling the climate emergency and responding to UK net-zero targets is another vital area for collaborative working. If the built environment sector hopes to shoulder its responsibilities and reduce its impacts, it first needs to understand and manage carbon in its supply chain. The School’s Climate Action Group is the forum to enable this transition to a zero-carbon future, with over 30 of the Partners and their suppliers all collaborating to report their performance against carbon-related activities through the Sustainability Tool.

Working together to footprint and address climate impacts embodied in the supply chain, will be critical to cutting carbon, both now and in the future, suggests Martin Gettings, Head of Sustainability, Canary Wharf Group:

“The power of collective collaboration is the driving force behind the Climate Action Group, bringing together all levels of supplier alongside some of the biggest names in the sector, working together to deliver real carbon reporting and reduction initiatives that can be adopted by the whole built environment. Put simply, we will not be able to achieve our long term commitments without it.”

The Plant Charter

Tackling specific challenges within the industry, the School’s Plant Group has also been working on how the sector can collaborate to reduce both air quality emissions that lead to local health impacts and the global effects of carbon emissions from plant and equipment. As a result, the Group launched the Plant Charter to encapsulate and communicate best practice on this, with its Partner Flannery Plant Hire the first official signatory.

With the School considered its ‘go-to’ organisation for environmental standards and capability, the Charter has put further emphasis on the firm to be better every day, says Chris Matthew, Strategic Manager at Flannery Plant Hire:

“The School has actively sought to raise everybody to a fair, achievable common standard and has produced a roadmap, by way of the Plant Charter, for how these expectations will evolve uniformly over the coming years. UK construction needs standout, ‘lighthouse’ projects to shine a beacon on innovation, and the School’s work to capture this and drive it forward across all contracts and project sites is where we as an industry will see real change.”

From the People Matter Charter, to the Plant Charter and the carbon footprinting in The Climate Group, the Supply Chain Sustainability School celebrates its 100th Partner milestone by continuing to do what it does best: deliver world-class learning and support systemic change, by being collaborative, progressive, inspirational and inclusive.


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