Central Procurement Office

The NETpositive approach

In the recent report: Measuring the Difference: the Economic and Social Impact of the University of Manchester (2013) we were able to demonstrate the considerable positive contributions we make to wider society through our very existence as a learning and research-intensive institution.

Clearly a significant part of our impact relates to our considerable purchasing power as well as our economic contribution to society. We have come to understand that our positive impact can be enhanced further and that our procurement practices and processes offer an opportunity to maximise this potential.

We have been developing our understanding of taking a NETpositive approach to our procurement practices, exploring what this means for our procurement processes and engagement with our partners. We are confident that by adopting an approach that not only supports the reduction of our negative impacts but helps us to consider how we can enhance our positive impacts we will be able to engage effectively with both our internal and external stakeholders.

Taking a NETpositive approach also provides us with a sensible framework for reporting progress, which in addition to demonstrating our transparency also supports our aspiration to take a lead regionally and within the higher education sector by sharing our own learning.

Our approach to responsible procurement

Utilising the Flexible Framework

For those who are not familiar with the Flexible Framework, at its simplest level it is a tool developed for procurement professionals to support embedding sustainability into procurement practice. We have utilised this tool for three main reasons:

  1. It is a well-recognised tool in the public and private sectors and provides a logical and consistent framework
  2. It focuses on the procurement process and if we are to maximise and measure our positive contribution we need to focus our efforts where we can have significant and long-term impacts
  3. We are able to customise the detail of the Flexible Framework to ensure a good ‘fit’ with The University of Manchester’s existing strategic commitments to Social Responsibility and Environmental Sustainability

The Flexible Framework focusses on key areas of procurement; policy and strategy, people development, the procurement process, supplier engagement and measurement of impact, and provided our starting point.

Working with NETpositive Futures we have also been able to take the existing Framework even further and have developed a NETpositive approach to responsible procurement for The University of Manchester context. This has meant that rather than concentrating solely on the negative impacts of our procurement activity we have actively sought to maximise opportunities to consider our positive impacts too.

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