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Buying responsibly at Thales

The French Ministry of the Economy and the Conseil National des Achats (CNA)[1]  have certified Thales[2]  under the Responsible Supplier Relations and Procurement programme, which rewards companies and public agencies for maintaining balanced and sustainable relationships with their suppliers. Official certification is a welcome reminder of the crucial role that procurement plays in Thales's corporate social responsibility policy.

Thales's purchasing spend amounts to more than 40% of the Group's annual revenues, so the procurement function naturally plays a key strategic role in the organisation. Focused on value creation, innovation, commercial partnerships and operational excellence, the procurement policy in place at Thales for the last several years is designed to provide a sustainable competitive advantage at the global level.

The company's recent certification under the Responsible Supplier Relations and Procurement programme is particularly encouraging for Thales buyers and a strong endorsement of the steps that have been taken to ensure that the Group interacts responsibly with its supply chain.

This certification is particularly important," says Roque Carmona, Chief Procurement Officer at Thales, "because it is fully aligned with ISO 20400, the international sustainable procurement standard that integrates social responsibility into the purchasing function.

The guiding principles of Thales's responsible procurement policy are as follows:

  • legal and regulatory compliance of the company's suppliers
  • high-quality supplier relations based on mutual trust and loyalty
  • sharing of expertise to drive innovation
  • involvement of suppliers alongside Thales in the fight against climate change
  • specific support for local SMEs
  • support for suppliers in exploring international development opportunities
  • greater reliance on the Social and Solidarity Economy. 

Procurement at Thales in figures

  • Over 7 billion euros in 2020, 70% in Europe
  • 15,000 suppliers worldwide
  • 1.6 billion euros spent with more than 2,500 SMEs in France


Supplier engagement

Thales expects its suppliers and subcontractors around the world to adhere to its corporate responsibility policy. They are all asked to sign an Integrity and Corporate Responsibility Charter, a formal undertaking to apply basic principles such as human rights, fair labour practices, prevention of corruption, influence peddling and conflicts of interest, data protection, environmental conservation, and compliance with health and safety rules and ethical standards.

"By the end of last year, 91% of our new suppliers had agreed to apply these principles," says Roque Carmona. "By 2023, we want 100% of our new partners to have signed the Charter, or to commit to equivalent principles, to help us develop an even more responsible supply chain."


Mobilised for the Covid-19 crisis

As soon as the pandemic hit, Thales took exceptional measures to keep track of its suppliers, particularly those involved in critical operations, to guarantee deliveries of its solutions and services to major customers around the world. The Group also set up a dedicated crisis management unit to determine which suppliers were still operating, identify potential impacts on the Group's projects and programmes, and detect potential cashflow risks in the supplier community.

[1] The Conseil National des Achats is the French equivalent of the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply in the UK.

[2] The certification was awarded to Thales Global Services, the shared services entity that includes the Group's procurement function.