Sheffield University Management School is a leading business school with a world-class reputation for high quality teaching, ground-breaking research and cutting-edge thinking. Now they have developed a toolkit. This free diagnostic toolkit can help you achieve financially sustainable supply chains and excellent employment practices. The toolkit can be used by managers in accounting, HR and supply chain management as a strategy planner, for team building within your company, or for bringing suppliers and customers ‘on board’ with your goals. The toolkit was co-produced by academics and practitioners as part of an international research project funded by the UK Government’s Economic and Social Research Council. It is supported by professional bodies including CIMA, CIPD, FIEP, FIEPE and SABPP. Peter Loadman who is a management consultant in wealth management providing business and individual coaching in the UK and Ethiopia through his company, LYFT talked to Capital about the toolkit he is promoting here. Excerpts;
Capital: How can the toolkit benefit people?
Peter Loadman: The toolkit is developed by Sheffield University Management School in collaboration with other universities in the UK, including the main professional bodies of personal development and accounts. The university developed this toolkit to enable business of all sizes, all types and all sectors to easily perform an internal audit and determine how they are in different areas of the business, accounting, employee engagement, human resources and a big focus on supply chains making sure that the supply chain and making sure that people believe in your services and goods and have the same business ethics as you do. So, no child labor and no slave labor and actually treating employees in the way we would like to be treated as people. For example, If you have a textile business, you may manufacture the end product the trousers, the suits the shirts and so on but in the supply chain you’ve got to produce the finished fabric and that goes down line and you got the cotton and wool producers so they pass that on to the people who put the material together and the end someone creates the finished product.
So the best way to use the toolkit is if everyone down the supply chain uses it. The toolkit is about 250 questions. In Ethiopia a business would diagnosis itself because it is the actual business that knows what they excel at or need to improve. In Ethiopia we developed a system of scoring based on the Olympic standard; gold, silver and bronze. If you are very good you give yourself a gold and if you are bad you give yourself a bronze meaning you’ve got room for improvement. And should the whole supply chain use it? I think if you want to export the UK or Western world, almost certainly so because there now legislation where retailers for example in UK like months expense have to ensure their supply chain manages their business ethically so that means the people from H&M who buy from a textile factory at Hawassa industrial park has to ensure that the supplier there treats their employees ethically. International companies like H&M or Mark and Spencer, have to make sure the rest of the supply chain is complying with their standards.
Capital: Does it work for the manufacturing industry only?
Peter Loadman: No it works for any business even for the newspaper. If you look at banks, they provide a service but they buy software for their work and they have to make sure that the computers, the software and other materials meet its standards.
Capital: So how can the manufacturing industry benefit from this?
Peter Loadman: The consumer benefits from this because they know they are buying from a business which treats its workers ethically and has integrity and meets quality standards as well. It also brings about transparency in the business. It encourages openness and honesty which helps all of the stakeholders trust each other.
How we treat people is more an issue in the textile sector here than the service sector so what can you say about the service sector?
If you look at employee engagement or human capital inspiration in the time I’ve been here the key focus on employee engagement is you pay people and train them. But there is a lot more to motivating people than just those things. Does the senior management do what they say they will do? Do the people who work for you have a voice? Take advantage of the brains workers have. Employers need to see the capacity their workers have to contribute to the business. How much they empower them is questionable. This comes from insecurity at the top level where people think because they are a manager they should know everything. Well some of these businesses are so big, a manager cannot know everything. So people that work have great ideas as well so business in Ethiopia has a lot of work to do in employee engagement.
Capital: Anyone interested to use your system in the banking industry?
Peter Loadman: I have just started conversations and going to start built some momentum and I am working with a local consultancy to help me.
Capital: Tell us the major benefits of the toolkits.
Peter Loadman: First off it is free Sheffield University gets funding from the European Union to do the research. This is used all over the world and they want to develop it to make it better and better to make an impact. I’m planning on translating it into Amharic. So it increases employee productivity, improves communication between different departments and improves cohesion. It helps develop a more resilient supply chain. Increased engagement, and at the end of the day profits will increase.