Australia Supplier Conference 2018

Conference overview

Sedex, in conjunction with Australia Post, hosted it’s first supplier-focused conference of 2018. The agenda; Simplifying Responsible Sourcing for Small Businesses, was aiming towards demystifying transparent supply chain platforms and initiatives. Around 75 delegates attended the day from various organisations, including large buyers, small-medium suppliers and auditors. Topics of discussion included the upcoming Modern Slavery Act in Australia, sustainable supply chain programs and initiatives, emerging technologies and innovation within this space, what going beyond compliance looks like, and, of course, a run-through the Sedex platform and accompanying tools.

Australia Post and Sedex welcome

Thomas King, General Manager of Procurement and Environment at Australia Post opened the conference by encouraging attendees to embrace practical examples to achieve improvement that were planned to be provided by a diverse line-up of speakers throughout the day, to simplify responsible sourcing.

This was further reinforced by Dan Murray, Director of Client Services at Sedex, who explained the benefits Sedex members have achieved throughout the world as they have matured in their responsible sourcing journeys. He set the scene for the rest of the day to challenge all businesses to look at the things they do and strive to continually improve their practices within their supply chain stakeholders through transparency and collaboration.

 

Opening keynote

Laura Gaspert, Ethical Sourcing Manager from Coles, discussed the company’s responsible sourcing journey from inception and the motivation behind their initiatives. Laura provided various examples of the Coles on-boarding process for their suppliers with instances of where support and guidance were provided. Some of Coles’ key learnings included: long-term, sustainable change takes time; Coles suppliers know the goal is to support continuous improvement rather than a pass or fail exercise; and suppliers retain full control over their data on Sedex, however, now understand the importance of transparency.

Beyond compliance

Our first panel session included representatives from Koala, Pony Up For Good, Cargo Crew, plus Sparke Helmore and was moderated by Susan Mizrahi, Head of Corporate Responsibility at Australia Post. All panellists discussed examples from their businesses regarding the benefits of going beyond compliance. Each panellist agreed that responsible sourcing is not just a ‘’check-box item and businesses should look at ways to improve the lives of workers within their supply chain and beyond. With representatives from a social enterprise, a renowned Australian brand, a nimble clothing manufacturer and an Australian law firm, attendees heard the benefits for many types of businesses and the commercial opportunities companies can gain when procuring sustainably.

 

Breakout sessions

Following Britain’s lead 2015, Australia is moving to adopt its own Modern Slavery Act later this year. The first breakout session was moderated by Amanda Bartley, Director of Social Impact from PwC and included Ian Bennett from Sparke Helmore Lawyers. They deconstructed the proposed Act to better understand the business implications as well as the regulatory and legislative changes to existing Acts, such as Fair Work and Immigration, whilst exploring the new reporting requirements for businesses.

Our second breakout session saw Steve Hansen from Australia Post, accompanied by Lisa Boothby from Social Traders, discuss how businesses can take an innovative leap by partnering or working with social enterprises or indigenous owned businesses. They complimented the session by giving real examples of the benefits occurring as a result. Attendees in this session were asked to provide three points to pitch to their organisation’s board explaining why they should work with social enterprises. The resulting top three included: diversity of suppliers, rewarding for workers and reportable community benefits and engagement.

In our final breakout session of the day Dan Murray, Director of Client Services at Sedex, discussed the starting point for businesses when they begin their responsible sourcing journey. He showed attendees the Sedex Advance platform, the Sedex reporting tools, training modules and various supplier Self-Assessment Questionnaire’s, for small businesses to better understand how Sedex supports impact from the start, the benefits of responsible sourcing and why these tools are used by buyers for supply-chain transparency.

Closing keynote

Abigail Forsyth, Managing Director of KeepCup discussed how being a sustainability-minded organisation has led to many benefits for her company, from a business perspective and also gave insight into the ways KeepCup have gone about practicing this initiative. She gave attendees practical examples of KeepCup working collaboratively with suppliers to improve their business practices, quality and environmental practices to reinforce the benefits of responsible sourcing for small businesses in Australia.

Michael Bradley from Sedex was quoted, “we’ve established Sedex Australia to not only better service our Australian and New Zealand members, but to build a non-competitive community of like-minded people, focused towards the continuous improvement within their global supply chain”.

 

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