The role of the professions in responsible and ethical sourcing
Why it is important that the professional institutions take leadership positions
Report from – Shamir Ghumra
Over the past couple of years we have seen the role of the professional institutions evolve with a renewed emphasis on professional ethics. It would be wrong to suggest that such issues were not already present in the constitutional fabric of professional bodies like CIOB and RIBA but there has been a concerted effort of late to promote the role of the professional in the widest ethical sense.
At the core, issues such as bribery and corruption loom large but the broader context is important. Professional institutions have a significant role to play with ethical advocacy and supporting their members for their own benefit – avoiding risks at a basic level; business opportunity and growth at the other end – but also for the greater perception of the professional fraternity.
Organisations themselves too are becoming increasingly conscious of their responsibilities beyond the factory or office gate not only to the supply chains involved in the ethical debate but to their own employees and becoming more ethical employers. The quarrying industry, for example, had a challenging time with health and safety over 15 years ago but now things are (generally) significantly better and safer.
Clearly more can and should always be done to protect those who come to work, whether it be in a quarry or office, however organisations are increasingly looking at the wellbeing of staff as a natural progression – or increased maturity if you will. Mental health issues are often seen as a taboo subject but increasingly more people are willing to talk about such challenges which can have significant impacts on the person, family and working environment.
Ethical and responsible practices are gradually becoming more mainstream; some aspects of legislation such as the Modern Slavery Act and Bribery Act have certainly acted as a catalyst for some organisations but many were already well on the journey.
Perhaps it is a tale of the vernacular which we use – responsible and ethical practices certainly have currency in many parts of society and business – but if we are to convince those in the C-Suite, we need to talk about risk, resilience, self (topic of another article), supply, transparency and traceability.
Against this backdrop of ever changing language it is important that the professional institutions take on the leadership positions we care to see; building competency and raising standards are key ingredients for a professional because these individuals will often act as change agents within projects and organisations creating a more ethical and responsible sector.
Dr Shamir Ghumra, is Director of BRE's Centre for Sustainable Products.
6th APRES Annual Conference
Responsible and ethical sourcing – a professional approach for materials, products and people
APRES (Action Programme for Responsible and Ethical Sourcing) is a group of industry and academic partners committed to embedding the responsible and ethical sourcing of materials, products and services into the construction industry.
This year’s annual conference will provide a strategic overview of responsible and ethical resourcing, details of the latest tools and guidelines, and insights into the latest research. This highly interactive conference will seek to gain practical insights from delegates into the opportunities and barriers for increased responsible and ethical sourcing.
When: 29 November
Where: The King’s Fund, 11 Cavendish Square, London
Book now: APRES Annual Conference