Modern Slavery Bill: transforming construction CSR and supply chain management.

No responsible organisation in construction would want any association with modern day construction slavery, forced employment, child or migrant exploitation as we read increasingly often in the mainstream news, for example Qatar construction or closer to home with construction gangmaster organisations. Hence the Modern Slavery Bill should be welcomed by the built environment sector.

Included within the Modern Slavery Bill introduced on 31 August 2015 (coming into affect on 31 October 2015) is a clause that has significance for most construction organisations – the Transparency in Supply Chains (TISC) clause.

We have introduced a transparency in supply chains clause to the Modern Slavery Bill. This will require businesses above a certain size threshold to disclose each year what they have done to ensure that there is no modern slavery in their supply chains and own business. This will be a truly world-leading measure. There are similar transparency requirements in California, but they only apply to businesses producing goods for sale, whereas this disclosure will apply regardless of what it supplies, whether goods or services.
Minister for Modern Slavery and Organised Crime, Karen Bradley

What does the Bill and Transparency Clause mean for construction:

Chris Blythe, CE CIOB in Foreword to the CIOB Dark Side of Construction publication: The dark side – the systematic exploitation of millions of vulnerable migrants – is rarely acknowledged, even by the clients and multinationals that commission and create our shiny new cities. Our sector is rife with human rights abuses. Bonded labour, delayed wages, abysmal working and living conditions, withholding of passports and limitations of movement are all forms of modern slavery.

The scope of the TISC clause will cover construction products companies importing goods or components to the UK, as well as contractors and consultancies operating in the home markets and/or overseas.

The Modern Slavery Bill (with its Transparency in Supply Chains clause) will transform and elevate construction CSR and Supply Chain Management as important legislative responsibility processes.

Organisations with a turnover of £36 million will have to:

  • publish a “slavery and human trafficking statement” setting out the steps it has taken to ensure that slavery and human trafficking is not taking place in its supply chains and within its own business.
  • From October 2016, to publicly share their policies and strategies to tackle modern slavery in their supply chains.

Guidance on what might be included in such a statement:

  • Companies’ due diligence processes relating to slavery and human trafficking in their supply chains;
  • Reporting on the parts of companies’ supply chains where there is a risk of slavery and trafficking taking place, and how to assess and manage such a risk;
  • Reporting on staff training on slavery and human trafficking;
  • Reporting on companies’ effectiveness in ensuring that slavery and trafficking are not taking place in their businesses or supply chains.

“Implications of non-compliance with this reporting obligation in such a morally compelling context could leave a large dent in an otherwise sterling company reputation” Victoria Ball, projects & construction associate at law firm Trowers & Hamlins

“It will involve a deep dive into the supply chain to understand what’s really going on many tiers down – getting visibility of the many layers to truly see the conditions of workers at the bottom of the chain. The message to companies is clear – it is no longer an option to stay below the radar, refuse to take responsibility for problems in your supply chain and hope you won’t get exposed.”Cindy Berman, head of knowledge & learning ETI

What is not so clear is where the responsibility under the Bill rests for SME’s below the threshold that have organisations above the threshold within their supply chains. Most construction organisations procuring goods and services from large product distributors or manufacturers.

Actions construction and built environment organisations should take?

  • Embed Modern Slavery into CSR policies and statements, where, arguably there should be a statement anyway if base on a recognised CSR structures(eg ISO 26001, Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), JUST, Global Compact or the Human Rights Charter)
  • Understand the concept of Transparency in Supply Chains (TISC)
  • Include questions statements in supplier procurement processes. (And probably best to do so for all suppliers who are close to or over the threshold)
  • Develop a PQQ and Project Bid standard text.
  • Understand what an annual“slavery and human trafficking statement” for your organisation could look like

And of course, these good practices should be adopted even if below the £36million turnover threshold as a matter of social responsible construction.

Sources:

Related iSite blogs:

JUST: a social justice label for construction …

Constructing CSR iTransparency 

Understanding CSR in Construction

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Excellence in Sustainability Leadership

low hanging fruitSince TQM days, the EFQM has remained my go-to framework for understanding organisational approaches, practices and performance. Of the nine criteria,  Leadership has always presented a challenge to those leaders not directly engaged and driving the organisations policies and strategies:

How Leaders develop and facilitate the achievement of the vision and mission, develop values required for long term success and implement these via appropriate actions and behaviours, and are personally involved in ensuring that the organisation’s management systems are developed

In 2004, the EFQM Corporate Social Responsibility Framework  was developed, giving more definition to sustainability and social responsibility leadership.

Excellent leaders ensure the mission, vision, values and ethics of the organisation reflect a socially responsible culture which they role model and reinforce with the organisations people and relevant stakeholders

They are personally involved in ensuring the management system addresses current and future social, environmental and economic issues

Leaders ensure that any organisational change takes into account CSR and Sustainability commitments.

What do you think? Does this criteria still hold good 10 years on ?

In preparing this post, as part of our Sustainable Leadership Conversation initiative, Andrea Learned challenged me to mention a  leaders I see as demonstrating these excellence traits. A tough call, but outside of the built environment I would include Yvon Chouinard at Patagonia (See Responsible Business),  within the built environment I would include Ray Anderson at Interface. Yet in everyday construction we can see signs of such leadership, for example with those at Marks and Spencers (PlanA), Adrian Penfold at British Land (open sharing CSR ) and leaders in SME organisations, making change through real engagement, (such as Malcolm Clarke at Baxall Construction in Kent)

Who would you nominate as a sustainability leader?

Join us and discuss on the 30th July for the first sustainability leadership conversation by using and following the #SustLdrConv hashtag.

Construction Localism – how do you compare against benchmark?

Construction ‘localism’ is currently high on the agenda. And set to grow in importance.

There is, rightly, much talk and focus on localism within construction projects and frameworks at the moment, based on the principle of keeping project spend local. And of course realising other benefits such as reduced travel and transport distances, reduced carbon emission, improved productivity and more.

But how do we compare and benchmark ‘localism’? How local is your project? As a client how can you know if your contractor is addressing your ‘localism’ requirements?

The benchmark being set through ConstructCO2 can provide a starting point. How do you compare? Do you know your project stats?

Construction Localism by Zone

Measuring and understanding your localism (and CO2) footprint must be a key measure, a KPI, as part of your sustainability and CSR programme. Going beyond the measuring it’s essential we monitor trends, make the comparisons, understand the causes and, take action.

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It is one of the more important impact and influence areas your construction project has on sustainability and the environment.

For more on measuring your construction project carbons and project localism check out constructco2 or please do get in touch.

UK’s first Best Practice Benchmarking Awards 2012

It was a real pleasure to sit on the judging panel for the UK’s first Best Practice Benchmarking Awards 2012, devised by the UK Benchmarking Institute in conjunction with The Best Practice Club and Ideas UK at the 2012 Ideas UK Conference on 8th November.

France Telecom Orange and HSBC received awards for their outstanding benchmarking projects.

France Telecom Orange for its “Broadband MTBA (Mean Time Between Assist)” project led by Thierry Denant, Senior Benchmarking Manager

HSBC, for its “When Social Media meets Business Strategy” project led by James Shewry, Best Place to Suggest Manager.

Ray Wilkinson, founding fellow of The Benchmarking Institute and director of the Best Practice Club explains:

“The Benchmarking Awards were set up to recognise examples of best practice in large organisations and raise awareness of benchmarking as THE most powerful business performance improvement technique around today.  Successful benchmarking requires organisations to identify clearly what performance they want to improve, understand it fully and then select, adapt and implement the most appropriate best practice available.  None of this is easy to do and many organisations have wasted lots of time, effort and money in benchmarking activities that have failed to deliver business benefits. Lack of awareness of how best to apply best practice is the root cause of this.

Benchmarking in its broadest definition remains the most popular performance improvement tool, although this claim would include the simple act of comparing performance with another organisation through KPI’s rather than structured benchmarking.

It was a pity that although interest was high there were no entrants from the built environment sector. Hopefully this will be corrected in 2013. Benchmarking remains an important business improvement tool for the sector, and as Paul Morrell commented recently, benchmarking should be driving construction costs.

“If a company wants to see a future, 80% of what it will have to learn will be from outside its own industry.”

As our improvement, communication and sustainability agenda has widened considerably with topics not traditionally found in construction, for example, social value, Corporate Social Responsibility  healthy materials and so on, it is arguably external benchmarking that will return maximum improvement to organisations and the industry.

The Benchmarking Awards is a judged competition, celebrating outstanding benchmarking at individual project level.  After all submissions were assessed, finalists were then selected and invited to present their submissions on the 8th November, at the Ideas UK Conference, where they were subjected to an in depth questioning process to explore the details of their benchmarking project.

The 2013 Awards will open for submissions from March next year.

The Benchmarking Institute consists of a wealth of unparalleled benchmarking experience. Check out the list of founding fellows and industries represented.

If you are interested in dramatically improving your business, looking to gain far much more value from KPI’s or just curious of how benchmarking can help reduce costs, the Benchmarking Institute can help.  Please do get in touch.

Awards reported in Project Manager

Eagle eyed observers will notice the Benchmarking Award is a replica of the Ordnance Survey trig column flush bracket plate. More here on wiki

Improving Bid success through construction #CSR

Is your PQQ or Bid success rate dopping? Are you loosing out to competitors and not sure why? You could do no better than to get along to one of the numerous best practice or knowledge exchange events such as the excellent Green Vision programme from CKE in Leeds.

Last night the focus was on CSR, Corporate Social Responsibility, which has moved a million miles away from just doing good, volunteering and charity donation, important though as these are. No, supply chain CSR approaches in the words of Bob Simpson (Walmart/ex ASDA) have to be ‘contemporary’ and demonstrate value to clients.

Bob went on to emphasis how the supply chain has to demonstrate “a point of difference” through CSR, when bidding for work, that includes:

  • Design Problems out (through BIM for example)
  • Improving site efficiency (maximising considerate constructor scores?)
  • Embracing localism
  • Hating waste in all its forms including energy, carbon, transport
  • Exceeding safety standards
  • Taking the initiative. The supply chains are the experts in construction.

Paul Connell E.on consultant reinforced the same message describing how supply chains adding value to E.on to help them deliver their ambitious Cities Programme of collective intelligence, enabling large organisations to engage with individuals on a meaningful level.

Setting the scene, my CSR presentation focused on the changing world of communications and transparency, and the need for construction not only to be solid and reliable but also innovative in CSR. Particularly in the public sector, where the newly minted Social Value Act will require construction to start to really understand and demonstrate the value of CSR approaches.

There is a storify record of the event here.

How contemporay is your CSR approach? Is it helping you demonstrate value to your clients and winning you work? Maybe now is the time to re-evaluate. We are helping many organisations review their CSR, PQQ and Bid approaches.  Do get in touch to discuss.

Social Value Act, CSR and Construction

Could the Social Value Act 2012 which came into being earlier this year have profound implications on construction procurement and on construction’s approach to Corporate Social Responsibility?

Indications are that it will.

The Social Value Act requires local authorities, when entering into public procurement contracts, to give greater consideration to economic, social or environmental wellbeing during the procurement stage.

(3) The authority must consider—

(a) how what is proposed to be procured might improve the economic, social and environmental well-being of the relevant area, and

(b) how, in conducting the process of procurement, it might act with a view to securing that improvement.

This will require the authority to pre-determine social value expected, along with measures and targets for both the project procurement and delivery. Raising the game on construction understanding of Social Value and CSR.

In response, bids will clearly demonstrate how social value will be created and delivered (as a result of selection to the project). We could (will?) see more weighting and scores afforded to social value issues making ‘soft’ issues ever more competitive.

What are currently seen as innovative differentiators could well become the norm and common place (such as free fruit in site canteens, free whole person health checks for operatives, demonstrating localism through mapping carbons of site travel etc)

Construction can have a huge influence and impact on social value and social wealth, through employment, transport, material purchase, SME procurement, environmental and social impacts … and more. With a little rethinking those impacts, often seen as negative, can deliver real positive value.

Construction, and built environment CSR strategies and performance will need to become ever more important, more strategic and more informed. At one level demonstrating a coherent approach to social value and at another as a competitive differentiator.

Hence now, as ever, is the best time to ensure that CSR approaches are robust, realistic and aligned with staff client and society expectations.

If you are interested in the growing debate on the impact of the Social Value Act and CSR in construction, please join me on twitter @fairsnape, using the #socialvalueact hashtag. You can also comment below and or subscribe to this blog or get in touch to discuss wider CSR and Bidding support.

We have a planned CSR in Construction Tweetchat scheduled for the 18th June where we will be debating, over twitter, the impact of the Social Value Act. (Using hashtag #GVischat)

can data centers power all homes …

How green is your data center? Stumbled upon an amazing post and comments over at The It Sanctuary

According to figures from IT market research company Forrester Research, a data centre with 2,500 servers – relatively small compared to many out there – will devour enough electricity over the course of one month to power 420,000 homes for a year. *

That’s bad news for the environment – and it also takes its toll on a company’s bottom line. Analysts at IT market analyst firm Gartner calculate that energy expenditure typically accounts for about 10 per cent of the IT budget, and is likely to rise to as much as 50 per cent over the next few years, as energy prices continue to soar.

As the comments on the post hint at – how well is IT covered within an organisations ISO 14001 scope, impact and assessment exercises? Or even within their CSR, Corporate Social Responsibility remits? With something like 60% of a buildings / organisations energy requirement being IT related, it needs to be a central theme.

But its the ability of data center energy to power homes that needs urgent investigation. If these numbers are correct thats a staggeringly high, unbelievably high, number of homes and would resolve the domestic electricity demand at a stroke. I will check the research and invite Forrester Research to comment here,