Guest Post: Don Bowman

In this guest post marking Green Great Britain Week, Don Bowman, Acting Director of London Universities Purchasing Consortium, shares the tools and policy behind the LUPC’s delivery of Responsible Procurement.

How LUPC deliver Responsible Procurement

LUPC Background

Established in 1968, London Universities Purchasing Consortium (LUPC) is a not-for-profit professional buying organisation owned by our Members, for our Members. We have 81 Members and more than half of these are outside of the HE sector, including galleries and museums as well as many other not for profit organisations, including several KQ Members. Our sole aim is to secure best possible value for our Members in the procurement of goods and services, without causing harm to others and helping to manage the risks within the supply chains.

Delivering responsibly through our policies

LUPC has been at the forefront of working towards Responsible Procurement initiatives for a number of years now. Our recently launched Corporate Strategy 2018-2021 includes the following as one of our key objectives:

Enhancing LUPC’s position as a leader in Responsible Procurement

LUPC is already widely seen as a leader and innovator in the area of Responsible Procurement. The online learning suite we have created on the subject of Modern Slavery has been used 471 times on our website, as well as loaded onto the Learning Management Systems of numerous HE sector, local authority and wider public sector bodies. A guide to The Modern Slavery Act for buyers, produced by us in 2017 was also shared by the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) for all buyers as an example of best practice in this area.

Our Responsible Procurement Policy and Strategy has been drafted by our Responsible Procurement Advisory Group, made up of procurement managers, sustainability managers and students drawn from our Membership, and has been endorsed by the LUPC Board.

We strongly believe in creating a demand for Responsible Procurement. Raising expectations with all suppliers and asking for transparency in their supply chain will allow our buyers to better understand their supply chain as well as identify and mitigate risks of human rights abuses.

Supplier due diligence tool - Equiano

Equiano was developed in partnership with the Business, Human Rights and the Environment Research Group at the University of Greenwich, in response to the increasing pressure on public authorities to purchase goods and services responsibly. This supplier engagement tool was designed to gather information to help identify risks of human rights abuses in public supply chains.

Our Equiano pilot project has recently come to an end and we are very proud to share the positive outcomes from it. As well as assessing a number of our suppliers, we also included the suppliers from:

  • Birmingham City Council
  • Telford and Wrekin Council
  • The Institute of Cancer Research
  • Goldsmiths, University of London
  • Swansea University; and
  • Cardiff University

Participants of the project were asked to put forward a number of their suppliers from higher-risk spend categories, there were 153 suppliers in total. Suppliers were asked to complete a questionnaire consisting of 35 questions which were designed to allow us to gain insight into the supplier’s operations and activities, covering procurement, sustainability, modern slavery and human rights due diligence.

Following the analysis of the answers given by suppliers, a multi-stage risk assessment was carried out, with follow ups with suppliers where necessary. The pilot ran between April and August 2018, and in September we provided each participant with a report outlining our findings with each of their suppliers, as well as recommended follow up actions for them to gain greater transparency in the supply chains.

Now that the pilot has finished, we are in the middle of a lessons learned stage and in discussions with other interested parties in how we will deliver the system in the future.

Considering that participation in the pilot was voluntary for suppliers, we are very pleased to report that the submission rate was 51%.

Further Due Diligence of our supply chains

In order to ensure that risks of modern slavery and other human rights abuses in our Members’ supply chain are identified and mitigated, we have begun to carry out social audits with suppliers. This started recently with a lab gloves manufacturer. One of the LUPC senior contracts managers shadowed the audit in Malaysia in September of this year and we are currently awaiting the audit report and planning our next social audit.

Responsible Procurement and Sustainable Standards

In 2017 we attended the launch of ISO 20400, the Sustainable Procurement Guidance Standard and decided that if we wanted to be seen as a leader in this area, we should adhere to this new international standard, including an independent audit of ourselves. In the assessment, we achieved a score of 74.2%. We are soon being re-assessed following improvements we have made to our processes since the initial audit.

Modern Slavery Act

We are also one of the very few organisations who, although not legally required to publish a Modern Slavery Statement, have done so voluntarily every year since the enactment of the Modern Slavery Act 2015. We are currently working on our fourth statement which will be published in January 2019. We believe it is important to publicise a statement to ensure that our partners know what we are doing to ensure greater transparencies in their supply chains. You can view our latest statement here.

Electronics Watch

As part of our commitment to responsible procurement we have affiliated all our consortium members to Electronics Watch. This independent monitoring organisation aims to improve workers’ conditions in global electronics supply chains. The mission of Electronics Watch is to help public sector organisations work together and collaborate with local monitoring partners to protect the labour rights and safety of workers in their electronics supply chains. Using worker-driven monitoring and guided by workers’ needs and priorities, Electronics Watch detects problems experienced by workers in factories, of which companies and social auditors are often unaware. Such problems have included the confiscation of migrant workers’ identity documents in Thailand, the deterioration of the eyesight of workers who view screens under bright lights in a factory in China and the lack of proper and complete payslip information to indirect workers in Central Europe. The combined market pressure of Electronics Watch affiliates has helped to end forced labour by students and migrants, contributed to reinstatement of workers illegally fired for union organising and guaranteed pay for temporary agency workers. LUPC is proud to be a part of Electronics Watch and will continue to work with them in achieving their aims and goals.

Find Out More

To find out more about LUPC and our work in responsible procurement, visit our website at

Don Bowman MCIPS

Acting Director LUPC