Andy Horne tells Claire Manuel that the business case for promoting diversity and inclusion is a 30% increase in productivity

Diversity and inclusion are priorities for 87% of organisations, according to a recent survey by PwC. At the same time 42% of respondents felt that diversity is still a barrier to career progression.

For electricity company EDF Energy, the UK’s largest producer of low-carbon electricity, D&I forms a key part of its corporate ethos. The company holds an annual D&I week, celebrated in all countries, and has created a range of employee networks, which bring together groups of employees to share common interests and work towards common goals. EDF Energy’s "Better Plan" is part of its 2030 vision, in which the company hopes to become the efficient, responsible electricity company and champion of low-carbon growth.

Andy Horne joined EDF nine months ago from KPMG, where he led the firm’s supplier management centre of excellence and its sustainable procurement programme. During his time at KPMG he created a framework from which the company could drive the sustainable agenda through interaction with its supplier base.

At EDF, Horne is head of supply chain, shared goods and services/IT. “When I came to EDF, my supply chain director immediately pointed me towards the sustainable agenda and said: "This is your expertise. We are already doing work in these areas but I want it all brought together’.” Horne immediately took ownership across EDF Energy’s four supply chains, covering generation supply, customer supply, nuclear new-build, and shared goods and services. His aim was to develop a plan that was supply chain specific.

Andy Horne, EDF Energy

“We wanted to create something consistent that we could all relate to across all of those supply chains,” explains Horne. His starting point was to get to grips with the corporate strategy, establishing exactly what EDF was trying to achieve as a company and then asking what that meant for the supply chain.

“We wanted a single strategy that covered what we were going to do from an environmental perspective, in terms of social mobility and driving D&I, in terms of our people, but also in terms of wanting to work with SMEs, suppliers from diverse groups, to ensure we were seen and known to be approachable and of course to be supportive of local communities.”

Working together with colleagues who had created the Better Plan, and with colleagues from all four supply chains, they created and launched the Better Supply Chain Plan (BSCP). “The link was an absolute imperative,” says Horne. “If we as a corporate entity have a strategic direction and are trying to focus on these core areas, and then go and create something different in the supply chain, people won’t connect it or recognise where it all ties together. It was critical that this hung off, and was directly aligned to, the Better Plan.”

The BSCP is focused, enabling Horne and his team to track, measure and monitor to see what is being achieved. “I wanted my team members to have a compass that they could relate to, to understand the role they each play in the supply chain and how it all ties together,” he explains.

Horne admits that the exercise was a bit of a journey for his team. People had traditionally assumed that a sustainable agenda would add cost or complexity, but Horne has seen attitudes change over the past five years. “People are realising the sustainable agenda doesn’t have to carry additional cost and can actually from a commercial perspective add real value,” he says. “Getting people to realise the sustainable agenda has a positive commercial and economic influence, as much as it does from an environmental, social, ‘doing the right thing perspective’, was key for me. My team could then engage others on it.”

Team members have been given individual goals and objectives within the BSCP, with the objective of making them think harder about their own role in the supply chain and what difference they as individuals can make. “The team say it is more real for them, their understanding of the impact they can have,” says Horne. “They were initially worried about the breadth of the plan, but they are now seeing that they can make a tangible difference by having a more engaged conversation with our supply base has been very important.”

Credit: Inc.

Partnerships with external stakeholders are an important part of the process. EDF Energy works with a range of organisations, including Stonewall, MSD UK, Business in the Community and WeConnect, to foster engagement with different communities. During Diversity & Inclusion week in May, EDF ran a session with Stonewall and InterEngineering in Bristol which focused on LGBT, raising awareness and visibility of the challenges faced by both people and companies. It was a great opportunity to share best practice and to learn from other corporates on how to develop a D&I strategy and purpose within the supply chain. Horne describes it as tremendously successful. Its purpose was to see what organisations can do to ensure people can bring their “whole selves” to work.

“The statistics really make you sit up and think,” says Horne. “Productivity increases by more than 30% if people can just be themselves.” The company has captured some key data around D&I and Horne is proud of the fact that 53% of its supply base are registered SMEs. The data also shows that 9% of the supply base is from diverse groups, although answering that question was not mandatory, so the figure could be much higher. “No one knows if this is representative of the industry or of the UK, as the data is simply not available,” says Horne. “We are looking to improve these numbers through dialogue, through our partnerships, and to make networks and companies aware of who we are and that we are here to do business.”

Horne is firmly against positive discrimination, believing in the right person, for the right role, for the right capability, at the right commercial cost. “We are going to reach out into diverse groups, we do want to drive the D&I agenda,” he says. “But the commercial influence will always remain because we are a business that needs to be profitable to exist.”

Horne and his team strive for continuous improvement, hoping to build on their success and to promote it. Horne would like to see EDF Energy continue to reach out to others across the spectrum, to share more best practice, whether on the environment, social mobility or D&I. "We don’t want to stand still, we can always do more. We’ll never get to the point where we can’t improve,” he says.

Andy Horne will be speaking at the 12th Responsible Supply Chain Summit 9 London, 17-18 October). Discover the unrivalled agenda and speaker line up, download the brochure here:

EDF Energy  electricity  supply chains  diversity 

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