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I had the opportunity to present this morning to the Procurement Leaders Americas Congress and offer some home truths around the wider world’s perception of the function.
At Procurement Leaders, we’ve recently conducted research into consumer views and asked a group of randomly selected Americans, Australians and Britons about their perspectives on the operations of modern businesses. Generally, their views were not positive. 70% of our sample, for instance, believed that manufacturers are not transparent about their production. We see similarly low levels of trust within other areas of the consumer space.
Yet, the people that conduct offshoring and outsourcing exercises, namely, procurement folk, are noticeable by their absence.
Based on recent research at Procurement Leaders, we’ve seen some strong results that advocate the procurement and supply chain profession taking a more prominent role in the discussion about offshoring. In the US, we see that there is vociferous discussion within the public sphere on the low-cost country sourcing. Almost invariable, the tone of debate is negative.
Words such as ’outsourcing’ and ’offshoring’ are used interchangeably and they almost always refer to something big. In large part, this is due to the sources of information for these business practices. Those that report on businesses abroad tend to come from NGO, charities and other campaigning organisations that are political motivated in communicating a particular message. This tends to be anti-business, which is a viewpoint that feeds through the consumer perceptions.
Has the time, come, therefore, for buyers, category managers and executives to engage into the broader debate?
There is a lot of value produced by globalised supply chain. This value flows through buyers and selling organisations. Perhaps, then, we should see more procurement professionals within the public arena, engaging with journalists and protesters alike, in advocating for their supply chain structures.
It will be a scary and perhaps a bruising experience, but greater transparency is the only way to secure greater trust in the future.