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An interview with Diageo’s David Lawrence, chairman of AIM-PROGRESS

Diageo – alongside companies including Unilever, Kraft, PepsiCo and Nestlé –founded AIM-PROGRESS, a global task force for responsible sourcing. David Lawrence, Diageo’s compliance and ethics programme director, is the current chairman.


What are the benefits for companies in becoming part of AIM-PROGRESS?

AIM-PROGRESS is a group of companies sharing best practice and exchanging experience around systems, problems and ideas. As such, we are able to accelerate our member companies’ responsible sourcing programmes and simplify the process of gaining assurance for our suppliers. For example, one of our newer members, Colgate Palmolive, was able to move from a standing start on their responsible sourcing programme to a reasonable position within six months. They say this could have taken three years if they hadn’t belonged to AIM-PROGRESS. This is partly because together, our 31 members can have more influence with their suppliers, since we are representing the whole industry sector, rather than one company.

Secondly, we have established processes to enable our members to use the same audits to assure responsible sourcing, by agreeing that ‘an audit for one is an audit for all.’ This makes auditing more cost effective and reduces audit fatigue among our suppliers. I’m delighted that in the last year, we have doubled the number of audits now available to our members to over 7,000. On average, we are finding that 30-40% of information already exists through the group. This is saving tens of thousands of pounds in audit costs and hundreds of audit days for ourselves and our suppliers.

What would you have liked AIM-PROGRESS to achieve by the time you step down as chairman in 18 months’ time?

I’d like to see that we are really starting to make a difference to people’s lives in the supply chains and that we are being held up as the most effective sector initiative acting on responsible sourcing. I believe we can do this through ensuring we all focus on the output of audits, rather than the process itself, by helping suppliers develop their understanding of value and capability in this area, and by working effectively together across our sector.