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Saturday, 14 September 2013

Personal and organisational survival

In an earlier blog I argued that many ethical decisions are compromised because personal survival is placed as higher importance than ethics. I can get on my soap box about integrity and doing the right thing, but we're hard wired to survive and need a huge amount of will power to override our internal programming that prioritises personal and family survival.

With thoughts of that blog still in my mind I attended the CIPS Supply Management awards. The overall winner was a team successfully raising the awareness and changing behaviours with respect to sustainable purchasing. 

Before the dinner I spoke to one of the other nominees for the award. As we spoke I realised that for that organisation the choice to support sustainability was clear cut and the right decisions were being made. Then the realisation dawned that the right doing arose because the organisation felt its survival was conditional on not doing the opposite. Brand and customer loyalty would be seriously jeopardised if they didn't get sustainability right - ROI, profit and competitive advantage would all be detrimentally impacted too. 

I wonder therefore how the internal programming to survive can, and is being used by procurement teams to inspire more businesses to do the right thing? That is how can we link sustainable action to survival of our own business and how can we link sustainable action to survival of our suppliers' businesses.

Perhaps more importantly what does that look like in terms of specifics:
  • Certainly following through on not dealing with suppliers who don't take the necessary action (all talk and no action is a strategy that's bound to fail if survival is being used as the motivation).
  • I also suspect culture will play a big part in how to tell the story to leaders within an organisation to enable them to accept the urgent need for changes in direction. 
Another blog last week suggested having empathy also supported right doing. I wonder how powerful a strategy that uses empathy and personal survival might be in removing the resistance to more sustainable and responsible actions in business? I suspect that's the topic for a future blog.

Alison Smith
Inspiring change inside and out

Picture courtesy of Pixabay

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