The Big Interview with Laura Neville

She spoke with Procurement HeadsHayley Packham about her career and why responsible sourcing is important.

Can you tell us a bit about your career and how you became Compass Group’s Global Responsible Sourcing Lead?

I’ve been in procurement for 12 years having started out as a Buyer in the public sector after graduating from university. I then worked in a variety of sectors including aviation, outsourcing, defence and insurance. I focused on category management roles for seven years covering a variety of areas including technology, HR, FM, corporate and professional services. 

In 2016, I became interested in the growing social procurement movement, so channelled my energies into learning all I could and developing this passion whilst continuing to build my procurement career and performing the role of Social Value Ambassador at Serco.

In 2018 I joined Foodbuy UK, the procurement organisation for Compass Group UK & Ireland, and assumed the role of Category Manager for Corporate and Professional Services. I soon took on the additional responsibilities of Social Value Lead. Seeing the inherent opportunity for Compass, I introduced social procurement to Foodbuy. This led to spearheading Foodbuy’s social agenda through raising awareness and driving our growing social procurement activity and programme ‘Buy Social for a Better World’ which involved collaborating with Social Enterprise UK, Compass UK & Ireland and key Compass clients. Foodbuy became the first food and beverage organisation to join the industry-leading Buy Social Corporate Challenge. 

Our commitment to our social procurement agenda led to Foodbuy UK winning the title of ‘Best Initiative to Deliver Social Value through Procurement’ at the CIPS Excellence in Procurement Awards 2020.

In 2020, I joined Foodbuy’s parent company Compass Group PLC as Global Responsible Sourcing Lead. 

What does your role entail?

My role encompasses leading Compass Group’s Global commitments for our Better for the World strategy, which includes responsible sourcing, enriching local communities and collaborating for big change. 

Part of my role includes developing the social procurement work I have led in the UK, building on its strong foundations to achieve a Global rollout of the ‘Buy Social for a Better World’ programme across our largest markets.

Why is responsible sourcing important?

I believe it’s important to ensure sustainable long-term supply by creating a positive impact through sourcing with care and respect for individuals, communities and the planet. Essentially ensuring that we use our power and scale for good and to purchase responsibly. 

What is a social enterprise?

A social enterprise is a business that is changing the world for the better. They are purpose-led businesses that donate or reinvest at least 50% of their profits towards their social purpose. 

Like traditional businesses, they aim to make a profit but it’s what they do with their profits that sets them apart – reinvesting or donating a percentage of profit to create positive social change.

What is social procurement?

Social procurement is the growing movement where procurement professionals use their everyday spending power to transform lives through including social enterprises and diverse suppliers in the supply chain, therefore creating social value. 

The more we promote social enterprises and diverse suppliers, the more the profile of social procurement rises, meaning we can further embed innovation, diversity and social value into ours and our client’s supply chains. 

How can other procurement professionals get involved?

Look at the way you purchase and identify if you can include a social enterprise in each tender activity that you undertake. There are social enterprises available in a wide range of categories from stationery, IT to print and coffee. 

If procurement professionals are interested in finding out more, they should engage with Social Enterprise UK (SEUK) who are the membership body for social enterprise in the UK. They have created the ‘Buy Social Corporate Challenge’. The Challenge brings together corporate partners from a broad range of industries with a collective ambition to spend £1 billion with social enterprises. 

The challenge provides guidance and structure for corporates at the start of their social procurement journey. SEUK can review your companies spend to find out if you are already spending with social enterprises and you may be surprised to find out that you are. 

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