Working collaboratively to promote sustainable practice across the legal sector

Westpac's new online SSCM process.

10 March 2015 12:10 PM | Anonymous member

Westpac: Sustainable Supply Chain Management

by Kelvin O'Connor

AusLSA Consultant

March 2015

Westpac Banking Corporation (WBC) has a well-respected reputation for operating a sustainable business and they recognise that social, ethical and environmental impacts reside as much in their supply chain as in their own activities. As such, many of AusLSA’s member firms are familiar with the WBC Sustainable Supply Chain Management (SSCM) process and the leadership position that WBC have taken to positively influence their supply chain;

WBC has recently released a suite of new online SSCM tools, which includes an on-line ‘Scoping Survey’, ‘SSCM Assessment’ and where necessary, an ‘Action Plan;

These tools replace a manual spreadsheet version which many firms may have seen before, however the process and range of questions have been significantly modified and in some respects asks a broader range of questions;

The ‘scoping survey’ asks some qualifying questions around your firms financial relationship with WBC, your financial, social and environmental ‘risks’, and some questions about ‘certified’ programs that you have in place to manage environmental, labour and WHS risks;

The scoping survey makes some decisions based on how you have answered the questions and will determine if you need to undertake the full assessment – suppliers deemed ‘low’ risk will not have to proceed;

Unless you have certified programs in place for the three areas mentioned above, it is likely that you will need to complete the full assessment;

Obtaining certification for your firm’s workforce standards and WHS is a lengthy and probably unnecessary task for a law firm however developing an environmental management plan and obtaining the AEMS certification is somewhat easier and has been specifically developed for law firms;

Don’t panic that you don’t have the more difficult certifications in place – it will be likely that you are compliant in most of the areas that are discussed in the assessment;

The online assessment comprises about 60 questions – you may find questions that you have to answer ‘no’ to – remember that the assessment has been developed for a broad range of organisations to you have to consider perspective and answer questions in a way that are relevant to the size and nature of your firm;

If you answer ‘no’ to a question, you are expected to provide an ‘Action Plan’ for that item which includes who in the firm will be responsible for that action and the associated timing, however, for some of the questions, Action Plans are OPTIONAL, so you can indicate that you will not action the item;

If you say you are not going to action an item, the tool will insert ‘We will not action this item’ – while this seems like a very negative comment, don’t worry!;

Areas where firms may find it difficult to complete questions:
  • Indigenous Inclusion – unless you are providing services that address the financial inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, you will probably have to answer ‘no’ to this;

  • Employee Health Benefits – unless you provide health insurance schemes or other financial health benefits outside mandatory superannuation you will probably also have to answer ‘no’ to this;

  • Contingency plans for labour rights concerns in your supply chain – law firm supply chains are not that diverse so it is unlikely that you have the resources to monitor this;

  • Accessibility of your products to the broader community – it is unlikely firms have products for mass consumption.
After the assessment has been submitted it is checked by the WBC SSCM team, and they do also apply perspective to the organisation answering the assessment.

AusLSA is committed to assisting our member firms become sustainable businesses and the development of our AEMS tool is the first step. We are currently considering similar programs for our supply chain and in the future we may consider certifications for other aspects of our businesses. Our relationship with WBC is strong, they recognise the certification behind the AEMS and are impressed with the strategy that our sector as a whole is embracing.

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