Purchasing for people, planet and profit

Committing to sustainable and transparent supply chains is no simple task, but it’s one that businesses cannot legally or ethically shy away from.

The lifeblood of the hospitality industry is people – from guests and staff to those at the furthest reaches of your supply chain.

The term hospitality itself is derived from the Latin hospes which can mean “host”, “guest”, or “stranger”.

It’s an ancient concept and a modern business that revolves around embracing friends and strangers alike, while providing them with kindness, comfort and generosity.

This idea can never be fully realised unless your business is taking steps to ensure supply chain transparency.

A truly sustainable hospitality sector must include supply chains that are good for people and planet, while making a profit.

It’s time to act on modern slavery

It’s shocking to be confronted with the truth that slavery has never ended. Even in 2018, it continues to persist in the form of servitude, forced labor, debt bondage, human trafficking, child slavery, and forced marriage.

According to the Global Slavery Index 2018, 40.3 million people around the world were in some form of modern slavery in 2016. It’s estimated that 15,000 of these people were living in conditions of modern slavery here in Australia.

While Australia may have fewer instances of modern slavery than developing countries, it is still very much a factor in our products and services and we are certainly not excluded from risk here on our shores.

In fact, the cleaning and hospitality industries have been identified as hotspots for modern slavery in Australia. Ensuring supply chain transparency will play a significant role in the future of these industries.

In 2015, the UK was the first country to publish a Modern Slavery Act. In 2017, the Australian Government launched an inquiry into building a comprehensive suite of new laws for combatting modern slavery, including the establishment of our own Modern Slavery Act.

The Federal Government has committed to passing legislation by end of this year. This will require large businesses to report annually on their actions taken to address modern slavery.

In June 2018, the New South Wales Parliament passed the NSW Modern Slavery Bill, which covers public and private sector organisations with a turnover of more than $50 million operating with staff in NSW.

Empower your business to start looking

The term supply chain refers to all the links that connect to bring your hospitality business to life.

From the materials and labour used to build your infrastructure, to the food and drink sold in your restaurants.

It’s the working conditions of the people who clean your rooms and the environmental impact of the products they’re using.

It’s the journey of the raw materials which are manufactured to become the linen in your hotel rooms, and beyond to the end life of your assets.

Developed countries like ours also import large numbers of goods and services from developing countries, and modern slavery can exist along these complicated global supply chains.

Committing to sustainable and transparent supply chains is no simple task, but it’s one that businesses cannot legally or ethically shy away from.

This is a journey that starts by looking at your organisational structure and opening a dialogue with the people along your supply chain. Next steps include identifying your risk areas, creating policies and processes to address these risks and monitoring their success.

The great news is that resources exist to empower businesses to identify and remedy modern slavery hotspots in their supply chains. The free online Slavery Footprint Calculator for example, can help businesses to uncover where they should start looking.

Supply Chain Sustainability School, has created a suite of domestic and international resources on modern slavery, along with running workshops throughout the country.

Purchasing for people, planet and profit

In April 2017, the International organisation for Standardisation (ISO) released the world’s first ISO 20400 International Standard for Sustainable Procurement. I

SO 20400 is designed to ensure that the procurement policies of organisations, both big and small, are robust and address sustainable supply chain issues. The seven key areas to address within sustainable procurement are:

  • organisational governance;
  • human rights;
  • labour practices;
  • the environment;
  • fair operating practices;
  • consumer issues; and
  • community involvement and development.

GECA’s Positive Procurement Pledge supports businesses as they explore and mitigate the environmental, social and economic impacts of their purchased goods and services.

Independent certification is the only way to make sure you are genuinely buying sustainable products, thanks to the built-in auditing and assurance processes.

GECA’s standards, for example, consider the social impacts of the products it certifies, including safer and more ethical working conditions, not only for employees, but also those involved along the entire supply chain.

Supporters of the Pledge include ecolabels such as Marine Steward Council, Fairtrade Australia and New Zealand and the Forest Stewardship Council. With so many certified products available, there has never been a better time for the businesses to start their positive procurement journey!

A hotel with a robust sustainable procurement policy can enjoy significant commercial, environmental and social benefits.

Selecting sustainable goods and services will enhance your company reputation, increase customer loyalty and attract new customers.

By increasing the transparency and accountability of your supply chain you can improve the lives of people from farm workers and textile manufacturers to hotel staff and guests. And in the end, isn’t taking care of people what hospitality is all about?


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