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Working with others

We deal fairly and honestly with suppliers and third parties, and expect the same of them.

The suppliers and third parties we work with play a crucial role in the success and integrity of our business. They can also contribute to our goals of sustainability and social and environmental responsibility.

If we work with someone, it is our business what they do and how they do it.

We do not want to buy goods or services that exploit others, or work with anyone who violates Our Code. If you have any doubts, ask "awkward questions". Look closely. Stay alert. Report your concerns.

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What you can expect from us:

  • We want to develop long-term relationships with the suppliers and third parties we work with, based on mutual trust. We will deal fairly and honestly with them. These are the behaviours we demand of ourselves.
  • In return, we have a Supplier Code of Conduct for our suppliers, partners, sub-contractors and agents, and expect them to meet our own standards.
  • We clearly define and apply consistent, fair and transparent procurement processes and work within delegated approval authorities.
  • We don't just count the financial cost of the goods and services we buy. We also consider their social, ethical and environmental impact. Wherever practical, we take account of the whole life-cycle of our purchases.
  • We do not want to buy goods or services that exploit others. So we take measures to minimise the risk of social exploitation within our supply chain.
  • We recognise that small firms, voluntary and community organisations, social enterprises and ethnic-minority businesses are important members of our supply chain. They contribute to local economies and to social cohesion.

We expect you to:

  • Treat suppliers and third parties with respect, deal with them fairly and honestly, and pay them promptly.
  • Speak Up if you have any concerns about their conduct or integrity, and always report any concerns they may have about us.
  • Keep to your delegated approval authorities.
  • Never turn a blind eye to what a third party may be doing. If there's a rumour that concerns you, follow it up, or report it.

I need to choose between two suppliers who are both equally as good. One has offered to buy some of our services if we give them the contract. Is there anything wrong with that?

No, that clearly makes them the better option

Wrong. Please try again.

We’d need to take care, but essentially it makes good business sense

Wrong. Please try again.

It could be seen as a commercial bribe and outside our selection criteria

Right answer because:

To do our business well, we depend on building long-term relationships with the suppliers and third parties we work with, based on mutual trust.

We have a Supplier Code of Conduct, and expect all our suppliers, partners, sub-contractors and agents to meet our own standards. But we also promise to deal fairly and honestly with them, and behave according to our own Code in all our dealings with them.

Our Code says:

“We clearly define and apply consistent, fair and transparent procurement processes and work within delegated approval authorities.”

This ensures that our suppliers know we always select them on a level playing field, using consistent criteria.

In this case, one supplier may be trying to change that by offering a commercial deal. While some commercial deals are perfectly legitimate, this one would go against our Code.

If we were to accept this offer, it would also create real distrust among our suppliers, and set a precedent that suggests we can be “bribed” with offers. This opens the road to corrupt dealings.

We must act, and be seen to be acting, with integrity at all times.

We’ve chosen a critical supplier partly based on cost. We now understand some of their materials come from a region known for labour exploitation. To change now would damage the project.  What should we do?

Too late to change. So don’t open up a can of worms

Wrong. Please try again.

Stay with him for the moment, but we must investigate

Right answer because:

We work in many parts of the world, some with dubious Human Rights records. So we must stay alert to what those within our business network may be doing.

That is why we have a Supplier Code of Conduct and insist that everyone we work with meets our standards.

We do not want to buy goods or services that exploit others, or work with anyone who violates our Code. So we take measures to minimise the risk of social exploitation within our supply chain.

If you have doubts about a supplier, our Code asks you to:

“Speak Up if you have any concerns about their conduct or integrity, and always report any concerns they may have about us.”

In this case, no matter what damage might be done to the project, we must investigate further and make absolutely certain that this supplier is not exploiting others or abusing Human Rights.

If we work with someone, it is our business what they do and how they do it.

This is acting outside your authority

Wrong. Please try again.

I’ve just been told by a supplier that Serco is delaying payment to him. I’m not involved in the project he is working on so what should I do?​

Report this on his behalf

Right answer because:

When we work with others, it is about mutual trust. While we expect them to meet our standards, they must be able to rely on us meeting the standards we set for ourselves.

One of those standards is our promise that we will deal fairly and honestly with suppliers and third parties, and pay them promptly.

In this case, a supplier has told you that Serco may have broken it own Code. That makes this your responsibility, because it is your duty to Speak Up when you believe our Code is being broken.

But our Code is also specific about the issue you are facing here when it says,

“Speak Up if you have any concerns about their conduct or integrity, and always report any concerns they may have about us.”

The fact that you are not involved in the project he is working on is irrelevant. You must report what you have been told so it can be properly investigated.

Our business depends on maintaining trust with all those we work with, and we rely on you to tell us when our Code is not being followed.

Commiserate with him and suggest he reports it

Wrong. Please try again.

Make no comment, it’s not my business

Wrong. Please try again.

I’m desperate to get goods from an authorised supplier but my manager is unavailable to sign-off the purchase order. It is above my spending level, so I’ve split the order into four parts so it’s within my sign-off authority. What are the issues here?

This is about sometimes being able to take the initiative

Wrong. Please try again.

It’s okay so long as you tell your manager what you’ve done and why afterwards

Wrong. Please try again.

This is acting outside your authority

Right answer because:

While this may seem like a matter of trying to save time for the benefit of the company, by not getting the correct sign-off you have broken Serco policies and gone directly against our Code, which tells you clearly, “Keep to your delegated approval authorities.”

Our financial controls are in place to protect the company and employees. Manipulating the system in this manner could be interpreted as an attempt to defraud the company.

So no matter what the motives, doing anything like this is wrong, and is likely to result
in disciplinary action.

If the supplier knowingly helped to manipulate Serco processes and procedures then they could face sanctions too.

Procedures should be in place so that you can get purchase approval from another source if your manager is not available.

Dilemma 1

I need to choose between two suppliers who are both equally as good. One has offered to buy some of our services if we give them the contract. Is there anything wrong with that?

No, that clearly makes them the better option

Wrong. Please try again.

We’d need to take care, but essentially it makes good business sense

Wrong. Please try again.

It could be seen as a commercial bribe and outside our selection criteria

Right answer because:

To do our business well, we depend on building long-term relationships with the suppliers and third parties we work with, based on mutual trust.

We have a Supplier Code of Conduct, and expect all our suppliers, partners, sub-contractors and agents to meet our own standards. But we also promise to deal fairly and honestly with them, and behave according to our own Code in all our dealings with them.

Our Code says:

“We clearly define and apply consistent, fair and transparent procurement processes and work within delegated approval authorities.”

This ensures that our suppliers know we always select them on a level playing field, using consistent criteria.

In this case, one supplier may be trying to change that by offering a commercial deal. While some commercial deals are perfectly legitimate, this one would go against our Code.

If we were to accept this offer, it would also create real distrust among our suppliers, and set a precedent that suggests we can be “bribed” with offers. This opens the road to corrupt dealings.

We must act, and be seen to be acting, with integrity at all times.

Dilemma 2

We’ve chosen a critical supplier partly based on cost. We now understand some of their materials come from a region known for labour exploitation. To change now would damage the project.  What should we do?

Too late to change. So don’t open up a can of worms

Wrong. Please try again.

Stay with him for the moment, but we must investigate

Right answer because:

We work in many parts of the world, some with dubious Human Rights records. So we must stay alert to what those within our business network may be doing.

That is why we have a Supplier Code of Conduct and insist that everyone we work with meets our standards.

We do not want to buy goods or services that exploit others, or work with anyone who violates our Code. So we take measures to minimise the risk of social exploitation within our supply chain.

If you have doubts about a supplier, our Code asks you to:

“Speak Up if you have any concerns about their conduct or integrity, and always report any concerns they may have about us.”

In this case, no matter what damage might be done to the project, we must investigate further and make absolutely certain that this supplier is not exploiting others or abusing Human Rights.

If we work with someone, it is our business what they do and how they do it.

This is acting outside your authority

Wrong. Please try again.

Dilemma 3

I’ve just been told by a supplier that Serco is delaying payment to him. I’m not involved in the project he is working on so what should I do?​

Report this on his behalf

Right answer because:

When we work with others, it is about mutual trust. While we expect them to meet our standards, they must be able to rely on us meeting the standards we set for ourselves.

One of those standards is our promise that we will deal fairly and honestly with suppliers and third parties, and pay them promptly.

In this case, a supplier has told you that Serco may have broken it own Code. That makes this your responsibility, because it is your duty to Speak Up when you believe our Code is being broken.

But our Code is also specific about the issue you are facing here when it says,

“Speak Up if you have any concerns about their conduct or integrity, and always report any concerns they may have about us.”

The fact that you are not involved in the project he is working on is irrelevant. You must report what you have been told so it can be properly investigated.

Our business depends on maintaining trust with all those we work with, and we rely on you to tell us when our Code is not being followed.

Commiserate with him and suggest he reports it

Wrong. Please try again.

Make no comment, it’s not my business

Wrong. Please try again.

Dilemma 4

I’m desperate to get goods from an authorised supplier but my manager is unavailable to sign-off the purchase order. It is above my spending level, so I’ve split the order into four parts so it’s within my sign-off authority. What are the issues here?

This is about sometimes being able to take the initiative

Wrong. Please try again.

It’s okay so long as you tell your manager what you’ve done and why afterwards

Wrong. Please try again.

This is acting outside your authority

Right answer because:

While this may seem like a matter of trying to save time for the benefit of the company, by not getting the correct sign-off you have broken Serco policies and gone directly against our Code, which tells you clearly, “Keep to your delegated approval authorities.”

Our financial controls are in place to protect the company and employees. Manipulating the system in this manner could be interpreted as an attempt to defraud the company.

So no matter what the motives, doing anything like this is wrong, and is likely to result
in disciplinary action.

If the supplier knowingly helped to manipulate Serco processes and procedures then they could face sanctions too.

Procedures should be in place so that you can get purchase approval from another source if your manager is not available.