Small Firms – Big Differences

An ethical approach to business can benefit all, and BPMA can receive discounted training, says Luca Ponzetta.

When it comes to ethical trade, there’s no reason why a small business can’t punch above its weight and even show larger multinationals how it’s done Small business members of BPMA are now able to take advantage of discounted training, thanks to a government-funded initiative aimed at encouraging sustainable and ethical business practices.

If your business has a turnover of less than £44 million you are likely to be eligible for training discounts of up to 80% via the Business Integrity Hub.

The training is being offered by Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), a leading alliance of companies, trade unions, and NGOs that promotes respect for workers’ rights around the globe, and is a leading UK provider of expert training in ethical trade, responsible business practices and human rights due diligence for companies.

Fleet of foot

Despite being large in numbers, many SMEs lack confidence in their leverage and ability to evaluate risks in the far-flung parts of their global supply chains, especially when it comes to potentially sensitive issues such as freedom of association. But it’s simply not the case that it’s always the big multinationals that lead the way on ethical trade.

SMEs might have fewer resources and less capacity compared to larger businesses, but they are often more flexible and able to respond more quickly to change, and their impact on human rights can be just as significant.

As well as being the right thing to do, ethical trade is good for business too. Research shows that businesses that carry out effective due diligence within their supply chains and invest in workers are more productive, have happier, more loyal workers and are less likely to be affected by strikes and industrial unrest, something Steve Wickham, head of social responsibility at Matrix, one of ETI’s SME members, can attest to.

Shared wins

“As a small business, Matrix has still been able to make many genuine positives. impacts for the workers in our supply chain,” he says. “We have done this by instilling a coaching mentality in our organisation and insisting on transparency and honesty as a starting point for our supplier relationships. We can then focus on training and education to address the root cause of real issues such as. excessive working hours and poor health and safety conditions.

This has enabled us to highlight shared wins for workers, suppliers and customers and join the dots between improving working conditions, retaining workers, increasing efficiency and profitability and ensuring reliable deliveries.”

ETI specialises in bringing together different voices and experiences and providing a safe space for knowledge sharing and learning. 96% of its training is rated very good or good by delegates, who enjoy the flexible approach and the use of games, role play and practical exercises using real-life. case studies to bring the theory to life.

Train to gain

You can either attend training sessions at ETI’s London headquarters, where you can network with and learn from delegates from a range of sectors and backgrounds, or take advantage of bespoke training, where our trainers come to you in order to train your entire team, and provide a training programme tailored to your business needs.

BPMA has partnered with ETI to organise a workshop for its members in the Spring. The training will provide an introduction to ethical trade and the ETI Base Code, an internationally recognised set of labour practices founded on the conventions of the International Labour

Organisation. It will also include expert, practical guidance about tools you can use, including ETI’s human rights due to diligence framework, to identify and mitigate risks in your supply chains, and remediate workers when labour rights abuses arise. If you are interested in applying, email daniela@bpma.co.uk or call 01372 371182 for more information.

Luca Ponzetta is head of training at Ethical Trading Initiative

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