How did you make the decision to buy Fairtrade?
The call to action came in 2003 during a breakfast meeting about sustainable procurement hosted by Stephen Timms, then Minister of State for Energy, e-Commerce and Postal Services, at the Department of Trade and Industry, that Michael Kelly, KPMG's UK Head of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) attended on behalf of KPMG. The DTI had just switched all its tea and coffee to Fairtrade and Timms challenged the businesses present to do the same.
Fairtrade sits well with KPMG's CSR policy, which has spawned a community programme focusing on "education, social inclusion and the environment." Currently as many as 35 per cent of KPMG staff takes part in community volunteering projects, which include working with charities for the homeless.
Says CSR manager Uzma Hamid: "Fairtrade fits very strongly into our commitment to our communities. As for our staff, with Fairtrade we offer them the choice to follow their ethics as well as satisfy their appetite."
What were the biggest challenges in introducing Fairtrade?
The central challenge facing KPMG when they switched was to ensure all stakeholders were involved and that it understood their needs. The switch should not just be one department's responsibility, so the risks are managed through different parts of the business, explains Hamid.
"Fairtrade is part of our purchasing policy with our supplier and is owned across CSR, procurement and facilities. It is embedded into the culture of the organisation as well as the process of the organisation," says Hamid. "It’s just become part of what we do."
How and to what extent has Fairtrade been incorporated into your procurement/tendering policies? Do you have a CSR policy? If so, does Fairtrade fit into it?
Before the switch to Fairtrade there was a range of different procedures across the organisation for buying tea and coffee with small offices, for example, going out and buy their own jar of coffee locally. This has changed. "The switch was essentially a business standardising process," says Hamid.
All offices are now buying from the same supplier, using the same stock and the same process for brewing tea and coffee. The number of brands has also been reduced.
KPMG managed the switch to Fairtrade together with its existing catering supplier, that rest operates all KPMG staff restaurants, meeting rooms and hospitality.
"We work very closely with our contract caterer. We have made it quite clear to them that we have a commitment to Fairtrade," says Hamid. "We have an ongoing agreement with them that they will suggest Fairtrade alternatives. They will look at the product range which is in our canteen and where possible and appropriate they will suggest that we buy something new."
Although Fairtrade did bring some initial additional costs, over time the process has been cost neutral: "Because we handled the project management of the switch as a business process it actually made it lot easier to switch," recounts Hamid. "We looked at the existing process. We formed an internal working group with the procurement and facilities teams, and our supplier. We then sat down and worked a plan to ensure that the switch was seamless - for example, we ran down old stocks before bringing in the new - and cost-effective."