The CEO of Australia’s Supply Chain Sustainability School says its three new partnerships indicate a new level of industry collaboration, a more accessible range of free learning resources and case studies, and a keen focus on social sustainability as the Property Council of Australia, Social Traders and Supply Nation all commit to working with the School.

 “Our recent research confirms not only that 63 percent of participants believe sustainability knowledge has become more important in the last year,” says the School’s CEO Robin Mellon, “but also that 60 percent of respondents identified ‘social sustainability’ as the biggest skills gap across the industry.”

The topic of social sustainability includes diversity and inclusion, health and wellbeing, social value and social enterprise, human rights and modern slavery, as well as local, social and Indigenous procurement.

“By working with the Property Council of Australia we can add learning resources and case studies around issues such as affordability, gender diversity and retirement living to the School’s growing free resource library,” Mellon says.

“Through our alliance with Social Traders we can make more resources available about social enterprises, procurement practices and social value. And by collaborating with Supply Nation we can promote their work on Indigenous procurement and share case studies of successful business relationships, from small to large,” he says.

The Property Council of Australia is the leading advocate for the industry that employs 1.4 million Australians. Francesca Muskovic, the Property Council’s Policy Manager for Sustainability and Regulatory Affairs says social sustainability and gender diversity have become increasingly important to employees and suppliers over the last decade.

 “We are also intensely focused on issues like Modern Slavery, where the property industry has significant influence across a large supply chain and is well-placed to work collaboratively to help deliver solutions. By partnering with the School, we’re embarking on a project to provide education and support for continuous improvement for suppliers to identify and remediate risks of modern slavery,” she says.

Mark Daniels, executive director at Social Traders, says social value has become increasingly important to employees and suppliers over the last decade.

“By re-considering procurement policies and practices, organisations are realising they can significantly contribute to improving employment outcomes for people experiencing disadvantage. This provides an important competitive edge in staff attraction and retention, while also making their products and brands more desirable,” says Daniels.

“We’re excited to be working with the Supply Chain Sustainability School. Australia’s current infrastructure boom is being led by the property, construction and infrastructure sectors, and the opportunity for bringing disadvantaged Australians into the labour force means this boom can mean so much more than improved roads and rail networks,” he concludes.

Supply Nation provides Australia’s largest national directory of verified Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses. Supply Nation’s CEO, Laura Berry, explains that “supplier diversity is a growing movement in Australia and has become increasingly important to corporate and government organisations of all sizes.”

Supply Nation’s research shows that for every dollar of revenue Indigenous businesses produce, there is on average $4.41 of social return.

“Since its introduction in July 2015 the Indigenous Procurement Policy has contributed to a significant growth in the Indigenous business sector with approximately $1 billion in contracts awarded to more than 1,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses across 6,850 contracts,” says Berry.

“These partnerships are tremendously exciting because they mean more free resources, more accessibility and more relevance for all of the small, medium and large businesses working in our supply chains and projects; and growing their capabilities means growing Australia’s social capital,” says Mellon.