Firms operating in the built environment have an important role to play in protecting the planet from yet more damage. If the way we develop, build and manage buildings doesn’t change, it won’t be possible to achieve net zero targets nor will the country’s infrastructure and building stock be able to mitigate the damaging consequences of climate change.
That’s why Magenta has launched its Good Business campaign, focusing on four key areas:
- Policy making
The Good Business campaign will include a steering committee, industry research, expert interviews and ultimately, a call to action for businesses to do more in ESG.
We’ll be publishing interviews with senior leaders in the built environment over the coming months. First up is Amy Brogan, ESG global executive director at CBRE, Global Workplace Solutions (GWS) Local.
Amy Brogan Q&A
Walk us through your background, Amy? How did you get to where you are today – and what excites you about your role?
Well, I graduated from my degree in psychology in 2004. I’ve always been interested in how the human mind works, how people make decisions, and how to drive change effectively – in fact, that was part of my dissertation. After I graduated, I went into procurement. This gave me a very good grounding in several different business disciplines, from negotiation and influence to cost modelling, stakeholder engagement and cost versus value. Off the back of that, I started a role here at CBRE around our sustainable procurement practices. Two years ago, I set up our global ESG function for CBRE’s GWS Local. We’ve now got more than 600 people globally and my team forms part of that.
When partnering with large corporates/SMEs, how important are standards and credentials such as ISO? If essential, does this risk penalising small businesses?
Best practice in procurement should open the door to ensure that smaller suppliers can win business. Accreditation is just a third party verification of standards being met that in no way means that smaller companies aren’t meeting those standards. It’s just that they haven’t necessarily been able to go through that verification process. What we’ve done is create our own CBRE onboarding supplier portal. This gives us the minimum standards that we expect every single organisation to adhere to, and those standards are checked and verified by CBRE individuals. Although an ISO accreditation is really great and demonstrates the credibility of that organisation, it doesn’t prohibit us from working with suppliers who might not have received the ISO accreditation, but have done all of the requirements to meet the minimum standards.
What about ‘good business’ awards? How much weight do they carry?
I think awards are very useful because they provide third-party verification that an organisation has done something exceptional. However, again, a lot of small, diverse organisations just don’t have the bandwidth to necessarily put in the money, time or expertise to gather and present the information that’s needed to win those kinds of awards. You need a procurement team who is going to go out and have targets and objectives to hunt for suppliers who are offering something innovative and different – a team that is able to engage with current and future suppliers to see how that difference or variance could add value to the business that they’re working in.
Tell us more about the CBRE Supplier Innovation Challenge?
On an annual basis, we have our Supplier Innovation Challenge where we go out to the open market. There are five or six different categories. We whittle down entrants to three or four per category, then invite them in to present. One award is granted per category, and an overall winner is crowned. They get a CBRE executive sponsor for a year, a mentor who they can bounce ideas off of and work with to identify opportunities within the business. They are also featured in our UK Supplier Partner Innovation Challenge Brochure and the Innovation Challenge video, which helps them get known among a relevant and engaged audience.
How can procurement promote diversity within a supply chain?
Diversity comes in so many different formats. The first thing to do is to understand what classification of diversity you’re going to take on a country-by-country basis, because underrepresented groups vary across the globe. Secondly, to really get business buy in, there needs to be an objective or target around your engagement with diverse, local or small suppliers to make sure that the procurement team have got ‘skin in the game’ about their need to drive and support those underrepresented groups.
Then there’s the education piece – procurement leaders need to educate their teams about why it’s really important to work with these classifications of suppliers. You’re boosting economic growth in supporting underrepresented groups, but it’s the smaller, diverse organisations that are leading the way in terms of innovation. They’re snapping at the heels of some of the bigger, more established organisations, and that competitive drive can only help from a procurement leverage perspective.
What’s the best way to work with diverse suppliers?
I would encourage organisations to think about how they’re going to provide policy and procedure around working with diverse suppliers. Simple things like payment terms need to be considered when you’re working with smaller suppliers. There’s no way that a smaller supplier should be anything close to 90-day payment terms, for example. They may need more onboarding and marketing support, too. At CBRE, we have a catalogue of all our diverse suppliers and we encourage operations teams to get out there and meet them to hear their fantastic stories. It’s really that emotional connection that brings us together and drives that kind of opportunity and value.
How do you monitor and evaluate to ensure your suppliers are continuing to promote social value and environmental sustainability an ongoing basis?
Part of our supplier relationship management programme involves quarterly meetings where we go through their environmental and social procedures and make sure that we support them. Our diverse suppliers also get free access to different carbon calculating tools that we’ve created to help guide them to do the right thing because they’re not necessarily going to have the resources available to them. That way, we can support and educate them on what good looks like from a sustainability perspective to ensure they’re the best they can be.
Should purchasing policies include targets to engage good businesses, whether those are charities not for profits, social enterprises, B Corp, employee ownership trusts?
Yes, 100%. Generally, in life, whatever gets measured or targeted, gets done. Setting and driving targets ensures that a business will put its energy and focus into achieving those targets. I would firstly start with determining the overall objectives that an organisation is wanting to achieve. Then there needs to be an understanding of the armoury in place to deliver those objectives, to explore the art of the possible, to reach for the stars.
Follow our Good Business campaign
More information the Good Business campaign is available on our website, and we’ll be lauching a dedicated minisite soon.
If you’d like to find out more or talk about how you and your business can get involved, email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.