The CIPS SM Awards – Ethics and Advice For Entrants

My colleague Nancy Clinton mentioned here the shortlist for the Procurement Leaders (PL) World Procurement Awards – to be honest we’re a bit surprised it hasn’t become the “Universal Awards” or at least the “Galactic Awards” by now.

I note that there is no bar on the firms for which the judges work entering and being short-listed for the awards. For example, my old alma mater, Mars, has entered and also provides a judge. This was the issue we criticised CIPS for last September, when a high proportion of the winners at the CIPS SM Awards were organisations that provided judges too.

You might argue there are even more conflicts of interest in the World Awards as many of the firms nominated are customers of the Procurement Leaders organisation too.  While the judging process looks robust and exhaustive, and no doubt the judges have much higher ethical standards than the Australian cricket team (for example), we still don’t think judges in any such competition should enter their own firms.

However PL is a (very) commercial organisation so of course they can do whatever they want. It is different - or should be - for the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply, as a membership and charitable organisation which aspires to represent and promote all that is good about the profession.

So we hope that for their 2018 awards they will introduce those clear ethical boundaries. We understand that there is support for that amongst both senior executives in CIPS and some of the Trustees, so let’s hope that view prevails over any commercial considerations (“the judges’ firms won’t buy a table if they can’t enter for the Awards”).

Or perhaps the people who are asked to be judges could just decide themselves that they shouldn’t enter as well - we’ve talked to some past judges who certainly felt that taking on that role automatically meant they shouldn’t enter their own organisations.

Anyway, the CIPS SM awards are now inviting entries for this year’s event, which will be held at the Grosvenor House on September 12th . Entries need to be in by April 12th , so you better get going! Despite our issue with the judging, putting your organisation forward can be a great way of motivating the team and increasing credibility with wider stakeholders inside the business. But do read the instructions carefully, and think hard about exactly what makes your achievement special and will make you stand out from the crowd.

Two other tips for aspiring winners. Focus very much on the benefits of your actions - my memory of being a judge personally is that some entries sounded great but it was either too early to show real benefits or they just weren’t explained well enough. And finally, testimonials from key colleagues (outside procurement) can be very powerful if you can get them to say the right things about the procurement achievement! A short CEO quote about the real value procurement has created is worth two paragraphs of process description.

Good luck …

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