Meeting the mark

Commercial director, Martin Gee, explains the importance of sustainability in our supply chain and how his team take up the challenge.

The importance of sustainability and social purpose for brands is growing and will continue to grow over the coming years. It plays a big role in consumer choice and also in talent attraction. Telling the brand story around sustainability and social purpose isn’t just the job of our communications and marketing teams, it needs to be lived through the business in how we operate and behave.

It’s fantastic then that here at United Utilities we secured a 10th successive year as a world class company in Dow Jones Sustainability Index which is a major achievement given the requirements become more and more stringent every year.

One of the key business principles in delivering our sustainable goals is delivering good value to stakeholders and managing our supply chain fairly. In thinking about this and what it means in practice we’ve considered how we treat and work with our supply chain, and what we expect from them and in turn what they would expect from us.

I’m proud of the teams work over the past 12 months which has really seen us improve our approach to a sustainable supply chain and I was hugely proud that we secured CIPS Corporate Ethics Mark. In order to secure the CIPS Corporate Ethics Mark we’ve embedded sustainability and an ethical focus throughout our procurement process and department. We’ve provided detailed, assessed training to all members of the Commercial team who interact regularly with Suppliers, equipping them to identify and manage issues, such as potential modern slavery problems, as they arise.

We’ve also created a Commercial Sustainability Group to discuss, propose and implement sustainable agenda items and processes throughout the commercial department as well as looking again to our supply chain to support our overall approach.

Part of our renewed approach has included updating our Sustainable Supply Chain charter which is now in its fifth version and covers more responsible business issues than ever before.

We’ve challenged ourselves to secure 60% of our suppliers to sign up to the commitments of our Sustainable Supply Chain Charter, something we are well on the way to achieving, and we are looking to continue this work next year by pushing that benchmark up to 70%.

All that leaves me to say is, if you’re a supplier of ours and you’re yet to commit to our charter, then now is a great time to get on board and help us drive a sustainable goals that will help benefit us all as brands in the future.