Ethical recruitment in the supply chain: Nick Bowles

Ethical supply chain

With the UK adoption of the EU Public Contract Regulations (in February 2015) more focus has been put on ethical recruitment. Now public sector buyers can request employee checks not only of the bidding company’s employees, but also those of its  supply chain (at the pre-tender stage). Here the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) Head of Stakeholder Engagement, Nick Bowles, talks to BiP Solutions reporter, Julie Shennan, about the importance of ethical recruitment. 

He said: “According to research carried out by the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS), among senior supply chain and procurement professionals, two thirds (66%) of respondents said that they either do not have or are unaware of any risk mitigation strategies covering their supply chain. The research also found that only 11% maintained a close relationship with their suppliers.”

This lack of knowledge can be detrimental when it comes to bidding for contracts. Should a public sector buyer investigate its contract bidders’ supply chain and find that any staff have been guilty of criminal conspiracy, corruption, bribery, fraud, tax avoidance, terrorist offences, trafficking, drugs offences and / or embezzlement – it could be grounds for the bidder’s exclusion.

Mr Bowles explained why this recruitment vigilance is necessary in the public sector.

He said: “Imagine a scenario where a teacher, nurse or social worker who had been recruited through an agency not on a preferred supplier list or framework then turned out to have fraudulent documentation. The ramifications do not bear thinking about.”

To avoid such situations, Mr Bowles urges buyers to take time to understand their suppliers’ operations – particularly if they are  ‘off framework’ or outside the preferred supplier list.

He said: “You should ask yourself if your suppliers’ own recruitment procedures are ethical and compliant. How do they vet and reference the workers they supply? How are those workers paid? What compliance checks are in place and how is compliance monitored? What talent pools do they draw from – are they diverse and do they match your own diversity initiatives?” 

Additionally, Mr Bowles suggested contractors should ensure their recruitment supplier is a member of a reputable trade association like APSCo.

He concluded: “Use of trade associations ensures that members of your supply chain have had to provide references and stringent compliance checks before they were accepted for membership.”

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