The Task

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster City Council had developed procurement strategies, which included how to address modern slavery. Both councils were keen to begin training all those who influence procurement on how to implement the strategy and consider practical application within their own roles.

Prior to the project there were no identified instances of modern slavery and exploitation being identified in Council supply chains. The boroughs wanted to be proactive in their approach to tackling the issue and in the implementation of their strategies.

The boroughs also recognised that organisations were increasingly under scrutiny over how they were managing issues related to forced labour and saw this as an opportunity to inform and upskill their workforce to be able to address these challenges through procurement.

The overarching aim of the training was to bring key people who are involved in, or influence procurement, to a common level of knowledge / competence around how to use procurement and supply chain management to combat modern slavery and labour exploitation.

The training aimed to help attendees:

  • Understand the current landscape around modern slavery and labour exploitation, including the UK government response.
  • Understand the issue of modern slavery and how it impacts on council supply chains.
  • Understand the importance of good procurement and why supply chains are important.
  • Know how to identify high risk categories of spend.
  • Know where to go for support / resources / tools to help.
  • Recognise what good due diligence looks like and the types of activities that can be done at all stages of the procurement cycle to address due diligence.
  • Gain confidence in knowing how to conduct supply chain due diligence around modern slavery, including the use of leverage to mitigate the risk of modern slavery in supply chains.
  • Understand more about supply chain mapping – what it is, when it is required and how to do it.
  • Be inspired to want to take action to help combat modern slavery and labour exploitation.

The Action

Action Sustainability worked closely with the Procurement and Community Safety teams to develop a 3-hour, interactive training workshop aimed at those who are involved in, or influence the boroughs’ procurement and/or supply chain.

Helen Carter was responsible for leading the work at Action Sustainability and developing  the virtual training workshop in collaboration with RBKC and Westminster. She delivered two of the workshops, and Emma-Jane Allen delivered the final workshop.

It became apparent during the development of the workshop that there was a significant amount of knowledge to be imparted in just one three-hour, virtual workshop. This challenge was heightened by the wide range of potential attendees from diverse roles across the councils – including procurement, finance, energy management, commercial, IT systems, supply chain, planning, contract management and surveyors, all with varying levels of knowledge on modern slavery.

The workshop featured numerous opportunities for interaction / discussion / Q&A. Mentimeter was used throughout, allowing those attendees less confident to speak out an opportunity to share their insights / ideas / experiences – anonymously if they wished. Virtual breakout groups (using Google Jamboard) were used to tackle some of the more overwhelming topics, for example supply chain due diligence.

Case studies were peppered throughout the workshop, helping to bring the subject to life and to highlight the wide range of risks in multiple industries / sectors.

The Outcome, Benefits, and Lessons Learnt

Examples of comments made by attendees in response to the question, ‘How will this training impact your work going forward?’

  • “I have a better understanding of how to mitigate risks and to interrogate our supply chain more robustly.”
  • “I am better equipped to carry out due diligence with regards to supply chain management.”
  • “More consideration into the procurement process, engagement with suppliers and ask for advice if needed.”
  • “I will be considering the potential impacts of slavery especially in Tier 2 and incorporate them into procurement questions.”
  • “The training made us think more about supply chains and how people can be exploited.”
  • “We have better practical ideas now on how to implement.”
  • “I will include further due diligence in my procurement plan, now knowing the risk and how far it goes down the supply chain.”
  • “Clarity on the topic leading to better implementation.”
  • “Will help me prioritise suppliers at high risk.”
  • “I have better practical ideas of how to implement.”
  • “Much more at the forefront of my mind during the tender strategy / process.”
  • “Will be more aware of modern slavery and how it impacts the supply chain.”