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Published: 27 September 2016

Doctoral student contributes to ethical sourcing guidelines

Research by a Surrey EngD student on ethical sourcing and sustainable procurement has been used by global facilities management and construction company Carillion to support its response to modern day slavery.

Erica Russell has undertaken the research while on the University’s Practitioner Doctorate in Sustainability (PDS) PhD/EngD programme. The PDS programme enables postgraduate students to work on a specific research brief within a relevant organisation for two to four years. This collaborative partnership between academia and industry focuses on problem solving and sustainable innovation, incorporating cross-cutting expertise in systems thinking, methods, operations and horizon-scanning.

Erica has developed new questions for Carillion’s supplier registration process and prepared guidance notes for suppliers on ethical sourcing and other human rights requirements. With issues such as forced labour and human trafficking still a major problem worldwide, companies like Carillion are placing a strong emphasis on ensuring transparency throughout their supply chain.

As part of her project Erica has also helped to create – and appeared in – an informational video which promotes Carillion’s value-based stance and explains how the company is working to overcome challenging ethical issues.

Erica said, “Carillion spends about £3 million annually through its supply chain, so ensuring that suppliers adhere to the company’s ethical sourcing and human rights guidelines is very important. By updating the guidelines and tightening up the registration process, I am proud to have made a contribution towards Carillion’s goal of raising ethical standards among its global network of suppliers.”

Erica has been invited to present her doctoral research and take part in a round table discussion at APRES, a conference organised by the Building Research Establishment which takes place on 29th November in London. 

Carillion was recently commended by Shaun McCarthy OBE, the former Chair of the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012, for its approach to ethical sourcing and its sponsorship of Surrey’s Practitioner Doctorate in Sustainability. In a blog written for the Carillion website he commented, “I have been very impressed with Carillion’s big ambition in this area and their willingness to engage with academia through sponsoring doctoral level research.”

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