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Corporate Social and Environmental Responsibility in Procurement

Currently reviewing the British Standard for Sustainable Procurement (BS8903), the Procurement Service is not resting on its laurels, but continues to improve and develop in this area. Already at level 5 on 1 area of the flexible framework and level 4 on the rest (the expectation is that University’s will be at level 3), the Procurement Service strives to improve in these areas.


What the Procurement Service have done


1 People

Engage, train and retrain, new and current staff on sustainable procurement and reinforce the message.

Level 5

2 Policy, Strategy and Communications

Improve communications and information available online. Ensure work identified on action plan can link into Energy Management System and strategic sourcing strategy.

Level 4

3 Procurement Process

Identify those contracts of significant impact, and where relevant focus on social, environmental and economic impacts, contract and risk management, key performance indicators, whole life cost and total cost of ownership.

Level 4

4 Engaging Suppliers

Identify top suppliers and identify means of introducing incentives. The Category Managers are to strategically review and identify areas of impact. Routinely run supplier engagement programmes and exhibitions.

Level 4

5 Measurements and Results

Further development of balance scorecard, measure key performance indicators and small and medium sized enterprise involvement, assess whole life cost and monitor revised savings log.

Level 4


The Procurement Service combined their Sustainable Procurement Policy with their Corporate and Social Responsibility policy for Procurement in 2013, to create a more meaningful Corporate Social and Environmental Responsibility policy. This policy better addresses the cohesion of the work undertaken, and ties into the Responsible University framework.

The Policy also plays a key role in our Environmental Sustainability Vision, Policy and Strategy and Action Plan with detailed Key Performance Indicators.


In 2010 the Procurement Service were short listed for two prestigious awards. They were a runner up in the Times Higher Education Leadership and Management awards in the Outstanding Procurement Team category. This is designed to celebrate the sector's leadership, management, financial and business skills. They won a coveted Green Gown award in the Sustainable Procurement category with their entry entitled “How supplier engagement addresses the corporate social agenda at Durham University”. The judge's commented "Durham University provided an excellent application that showed a good model of engagement with small and medium enterprises and local businesses. The strategy is embedded into their practices and robust communication channels are present with suppliers and internal staff making it highly successful."

In 2011 the Procurement Service was again successful in winning a coveted Green Gown award in the Sustainable Procurement category. With the title “Leading the way in sustainable food procurement” the judges said that there was “evidence of grassroots thinking with impressive supplier engagement, Durham University’s entry is an all encompassing project looking at the whole procurement process. Solid, demonstrative and sustainable benefits evidenced and a stand out entry in its category”. There were no highly commended in this category.

The Procurement Service is thrilled with its progress and external recognition. It clearly acknowledges the amount of hard work and effort that has been invested in both the sustainable and local agendas, however, be assured the Procurement Service are not about to rest on their success and they will continue to drive forward initiatives within the Higher Education sector.


Supplier engagement is a critical part of the work undertaken in the Procurement Service. A 'How to Do Business Guide' helps suppliers to understand the University’s aims, legal obligations and tender process. Supplier development programmes are regularly run to provide useful information to suppliers to assist them in applying for work, not just at Durham University, but elsewhere within the public sector.

Supplier exhibitions and Supplier Development days have been and continue to be held each year, to give staff and suppliers the opportunity to meet each other, and discuss the contracts, and therefore goods or services, that are available. The event held in 2014 was well received by staff and suppliers, with the feedback stating that the organisers were knowledgeable and helpful, the event was well organised, the suppliers felt that the exhibition met their aims and objectives and that they had made new contacts. Run at a break even, rather than a profit, the Procurement Service make it possible for all suppliers to attend.

In 2014, the Procurement Service held their annual Supplier Recognition event, which is designed to recognise the good work that suppliers are involved in. With ten categories, including “Outstanding CSER”, the Chief Finance Officer opened this year’s event. The hope is that suppliers will continue to improve year on year , with these improvements recorded through a Contract Management Log, in order to be recognised at this prestigious event.


The Procurement Service has ensured that as part of its robust tendering and contract management procedure the following areas are not only assessed when a contract is let but where appropriate they are monitored throughout the lifetime of the contract to ensure continual development:

  • Environmental/Sustainable Impact;
  • Health and Safety;
  • Corporate Social and Environmental Responsibility (CSER);
  • Diversity and Equality;
  • Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment (WEEE);
  • Whole Life Costing or Total cost of Ownership.