McGill rolls out first Supplier Code of Conduct, adds animal-welfare clause

Posted on Wednesday, June 8, 2016

McGill’s Procurement Services is reaching a new milestone in its sustainable procurement goals with the adoption of its first Supplier Code of Conduct.

“This document is a fundamental component of our Sustainable Procurement Strategy,” said François Pouliot, Director of Procurement Services. “It speaks to our current and potential suppliers and communicates our institution’s values and minimum requirements for engaging in a business relationship with them. It spells out our expectations with regards to the respect of social, environmental and ethical business principles.”

“The development of the Supplier Code of Conduct was a collaborative and iterative process,” said Stéphanie Leclerc, McGill’s Project Manager for Sustainable Procurement. “The Sustainable Procurement Core Team members (including staff members, students and faculty members) weighed in on the first few drafts. Then, the document was tested with a dozen suppliers from various industries to get their feedback. Law Prof. Adelle Blackett was kind enough to provide her input, and so did the University’s Secretary General, the Office of Internal Audit, and Legal Services.”

The close collaboration between all stakeholders and their keen understanding of the potential for the Supplier Code of Conduct was crucial and made it possible to bring last-minute changes. “Just before the document’s adoption, Procurement Services was informed that one of its suppliers was declared non-compliant with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal Welfare Act,” Leclerc said. “We were able to bring in a new clause for animal welfare into the Code of Conduct and quickly get everyone’s buy-in before the final adoption.”

Procurement Services does not have the funds nor the means to inspect and/or audit its thousands of suppliers. “That wouldn’t be realistic,” Leclerc said. “However, and from now on, the Supplier Code of Conduct will become an integral part of all McGill contracts with its suppliers and anybody can reach out by email to the Office of Internal Audit if they witness irregularities or supplier behaviours inconsistent with the principles established in the Code of Conduct.

“Next stop for us is the Licensee Code of Conduct,” Leclerc said. “This one will include additional requirements for companies or organizations who manufacture, or sell, products with the University’s logo or insignia. We’ll be sure to roll out that one with equal fanfare!”

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