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Sustainable and Ethical Procurement

Sustainable procurement takes a wider view and incorporates the net benefits for both the buyer organisation and the wider world. They consider the impact of environmental, economic and social factors along with price and quality. This is important in terms of how the buyer conducts their relationship with suppliers, including contract negotiation especially when sourcing globally with unfamiliar work cultures.

It is becoming more fundamental for purchasing professionals to ensure the practices it undertakes in business are above reproach. They must be aware and lookout for signs of unacceptable practices in the supply chain such as fraud, corruption, modern-day slavery, human trafficking and wider issues such as child labour.

As a purchasing professional you should take the time to understand the fundamentals of ethical behaviour when selecting and managing suppliers as well being aware our own personal responsibilities and demonstrate integrity at all times.

New UK legislation - view CIPS Knowledge Insight on the Modern Slavery Act 2015

CIPS Procurement Topics

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Modern Slavery

Modern Slavery

There are believed to be 35.8 million people are enslaved worldwide. Types of slavery include child trafficking, forced labour/debt bondage, forced labour, sexual exploitation, criminal exploitation and domestic servitude.  Forced labour in the private economy generates US $150 billion in illegal profits per year.

There is no typical victim of slavery. Victims are men, women and children of all ages, ethnicities and nationalities and cut across the population. However, it’s normally more prevalent among the most vulnerable or within minority or socially excluded groups. Approximately 53% of victims in the UK are women, and 46% are men. Child victims are victims of child abuse and should therefore be treated as such using existing child protection procedures and statutory protocols.

Poverty, limited opportunities at home, lack of education, unstable social and political conditions, economic imbalances and war are some of the key drivers that contribute to someone’s vulnerability in becoming a victim of modern slavery. What’s more, victims can often face more than one type of abuse and slavery, for example, being sold on to another trafficker and then forced into another form of exploitation.

Potential victims have been reported from 103 different countries of origin in 2015. The top six most common countries of origin for potential victims of trafficking recorded in 2015 were Albania, Vietnam, Nigeria, Romania, the UK and Poland, with potential victims originating from Albania representing 18% of all referrals to the National Referral Mechanism last year. From 2014, the UK has seen a 40% increase in the number of potential victims of trafficking referred.


The Modern Slavery Act

The Modern Slavery Act requires organisations with a turnover exceeding £36m, and which supply goods and services in the UK, to publish an annual statement explaining what they are doing to eliminate slavery from their businesses and supply chains.

The Modern Slavery Act came into Force in 2015. This insight gives an overview of the Act; focusing on the impact on Supply Chains and the role of Procurement and actions required to support the organisation.

Download report


Modern Slavery Statements


Research Findings/News Insights

Further Reading and Tools

Ethical and Sustainable Procurement.

This publication introduces procurement professionals to the key concepts behind ethical procurement and provides practical advice for getting started. It not only addresses procurement specifications but recognises the importance of how a buyer conducts their relationship with suppliers, including contract negotiation.

The guide has a specific focus on procurement across borders, especially when buying from unfamiliar places with weak worker protections, or countries with potentially unfamiliar work cultures.


Ethics and Sustainable Procurement

Modern slavery in supply chain: an introduction for procurement professionals.

The increase in global sourcing opportunities has highlighted some serious issues in procurement practices, in particular the occurrence in the supply chain, unwittingly or otherwise, of modern slavery. From every perspective – reputational, financial and ethical – this is not acceptable in the 21st century.

Whatever sector or global region you work in, we urge you to read this guide to understand the issues and know where to go for assistance so that you can begin to make a real difference in your business and in society.


Ethics and Sustainable Procurement

Tackling Modern Slavery in Supply Chains

The information in this resource is primarily aimed at procurement, supply chain and sustainability professionals in companies, organisations and governments. It is aimed at those who want concrete guidance on how to reduce or eliminate the risk of modern slavery occurring in their supply chains, either as a direct or indirect result of their procurement practices. For the purpose of simplicity, we use the terms company, however this Guide is relevant to all governments and any other organisation wishing to tackle slavery in their supply chains. Finally, this Guide is intended to be a comprehensive system of meaningful action to address modern slavery within an organisation’s operations and is designed for verification.



NEWS: 23 October 2013

Supply Chain ethics at the heart of CIPS and Walk Free Foundation Collaboration