FROM Supply Chain TO VALUE CHAIN – A SUSTAINABLE APPROACH TO AUDITS
by Spiros Tsigaridas, Compliance and Sustainability Senior Manager, GP General Procurement
This article first appeared in Supply Chain and Sustainability Magazine, the Maritime magazine for @IMPA & IMPA SAVE.
The importance of Sustainability in the Supply Chain
During the last two years the entire marine supply chain has endured a stress test like no other. Our members’ crew (on-board a pool of over 1000 vessels) have been faced with a host of challenges, some of which appear without end. At the same time, the ongoing difficulties faced ashore have shone a light on the resilience and effectiveness of shore staff to deliver the excellent service expected. Principals demand resilience and high-level service consistency from every stakeholder and this translates into a requirement for high sustainability maturity. Within such a unique ecosystem, GenPro has become the bridge bringing together every stakeholder’s shade of green – under our unique responsibility “contract” – of its own Sustainability Strategy. GenPro has become synonymous with innovative and appropriate sustainability strategies designed to transform the Maritime and Trading Ecosystem as it moves along its wider sustainability journey.
GenPro’s commitment towards a network of Sustainable Suppliers
Navigating ourselves safely away from the ledges of self-assessment we approach compliance and sustainability in an innovative, interactive, verifiable and measurable manner. We have a clear and visible commitment towards our suppliers to support them in their efforts to become sustainable, in compliance with our Sustainability Strategy. To ensure our value and supply chain remains compliant with the requirements of our strategy, we have developed a unique Compliance & Sustainability Audit Protocol. This is a unique toolkit utilizing a large amount of different compliance and sustainability KPIs. The process provides a safe and accurate definition of a company’s compliance and sustainability maturity, while supporting every participant in becoming more resilient, agile and ‘Green’ in their own unique and diverse way. Our process is a truly bespoke approach. It boils down to identifying the industry’s specific challenges on the one hand while, on the other, offering tangible support for measurable improvements.
We have designed audit toolkits for every one of the 20 cost categories we cater for commercially. These are bespoke versions of the Audit Toolkit Master which we customize accordingly to the Auditee Type and the industry it belongs to without neglecting the applicable GRI Taxonomy they would follow on their Sustainability Report. Proof of the merits of our process is evidenced in the way our suppliers have embraced the audit experience. Customers realized the value the process brings in revealing the weaknesses and unique strengths of both compliance and sustainability and its ability to increase the preparedness and resilience of internal systems to an even more disrupted supply chain in the future.
GenPro’s Audit Protocol
Diving deeper into our Audit methodology, we can stress that our protocol is a differentiator mainly due to the Compliance and Sustainability KPIs in place. We utilize more than 170 KPIs in 12 Categories, covering the entire ESG spectrum, fully aligned with the latest GRI Taxonomy and the results of our Materiality Analysis. In short, we need to be able to prove the impact of our actions throughout our sustainability journey in a measurable and fully verifiable manner. The procedure is divided into three phases, the preparatory stage, the physical inspection (actual audit) stage and the follow-up stage. Independently, during and after the follow-up stage, we also deliver a bespoke improvement plan addressing areas of concern identified during the audit.
Before the audit, we prepare the supplier by sharing our intentions in good time and we conduct a series of meetings via video conference where the agenda is proposed along with the items we will physically inspect. Further, the audit forms are shared in advance of the visit as these need to be filled out before the physical audit commences.
During the audit, we conduct a physical inspection of the premises and warehouses, the items we requested to be displayed and the entire set of documentation, processes, policies and regulations as listed in the forms provided. In addition, we conduct a bespoke sustainability seminar where we touch on the specific challenges of both the industry and the supplier and explain the solutions we can offer. Further, we focus on the broader industry’s correct practices which we share and discuss openly. This benefits everyone and is also one of the main characteristics of the sustainable partnerships we are building.
Post audit we share the Audit Report, we elaborate in detail on the respective scoring achieved both in terms of compliance and sustainability and we present the areas for improvement and of concern. Once this step is completed, we embark on a two-monthly improvement and follow-up plan with the supplier to ensure that all identified improvement areas are adequately addressed. Throughout this process GenPro’s intention is not to judge harshly the genuine engagement of our suppliers but instead to support the supplier’s growth and further development.
Our roadmap is holistic in its approach and free from any “greenwashing” whether intentional or unintentional. Recently, during one of our networking events, we reminded our network and suppliers that sustainability is key to our development and has been part of our DNA since GenPro’s creation. Amidst the Covid pandemic we have conducted 29 Compliance and Sustainability Audits during which we inspected Shipchandlers in 7 Countries. Further, we visited more than 30 warehouses covering over 200,000 square meters, while having personally reviewed over 8500 provisions, bonded and technical items. GenPro is constantly learning from the audit process to continually improve our service offering to clients and subsequently the experiences of all of our stakeholders. Through our actions and in line with our targets we aim to inspire and influence our suppliers and service providers to embark along a deep and rewarding sustainability transformation program. In short, GenPro ensures that all staff, whether ashore or on board, are both safe and happy whilst also instilling a sense of confidence that any challenge within the supply chain has been methodically and meticulously mitigated. Sustainable partnerships are the future and we are fully committed to establishing a Sustainable Suppliers Network. Together with our stakeholders we can and will GO Forward, no matter how long that may take.
GenPro is the joint venture procurement arm of Columbia Shipmanagement and Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement