New generation procurement and supply chain jobs will be staffed by candidates with knowledge of blockchain technology who will have the ability to save human lives and stamp out exploitation in supply chains, an academic predicts. Olinga Taeed, who became the world’s first Professor in Blockchain and Social Enterprise at Birmingham City University last year, has researched how blockchain technology can be used to achieve social good. He believes that practitioners in procurement jobs can use the technology to alleviate serious problems and deliver valuable improvements to society.

Speaking to Procurious, he said that most children don’t imagine becoming CPOs when growing up. He said: “And that’s because we value non-financial value. We grow up wanting to do things that have value in society – things to do with life and sentiment, we want to change the world. Doctors save one life at a time. In procurement, we can save or kill thousands by one decision.” A decision to cut 3% off a supply chain budget can, Professor Taeed says, push people somewhere in the chain into slavery conditions. Every year, 32 people on average commit suicide manufacturing iPhones in China, while 800 people might perish in a fire for a clothing retailer. As he puts it, practitioners, from permanent staff to supply chain and procurement interims: “have the power of life and death” in their hands – a major responsibility.

Taeed explains that Blockchain can place a supply chain into a digital ledger so that purchasers can see at the point of sale information depicting the values of a supplier. Procurement practitioners, in other words, will be able to select products that are aligned with theirs and their company’s ethical values and to avoid companies or suppliers revealed as environmentally and socially dubious by the blockchain data.

Procurers who understand blockchain will, Taeed believes, be granted an unprecedented opportunity to buy products only from suppliers aligned with corporate values.

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