Supply Chain

Sustainability in Sourcing Part II: Sourcing's Role

An image of a glass globe in the forest.

In previous blogs, SIG has covered the basic concept of sustainability, including an overview of its various dimensions. In this post, I will touch on the role that sourcing professionals can have in meeting corporate sustainability goals.

Why should sourcing have a role?

Sourcing is uniquely positioned to contribute to meeting a corporation's sustainability goals because sourcing typically has expertise in:

  • Creating alignment to corporate goals
  • Building frameworks to measure success
  • Researching market conditions and supplier capabilities
  • Conducting strategic negotiations 
  • Designing innovative methods for value creation
  • Ranking the priorities of stakeholders with supplier offerings   
  • Identifying risk and mitigating responsibly

The reduction in costs after implementing a sustainability program can exceed the costs of implementation – in other words, you’re spending money up front but in the long run, you save more than you spend. For example, if an organization were to target the spend category of corporate services and facilities management (FM), capital may be invested in working with a supplier to install a new system that reduces energy consumption at the company's North American headquarters, but in the long run, the reduction in energy costs saves the company money – which of course, can then be reinvested.

In this example, procurement and sourcing are uniquely positioned to make this happen. Most likely Sourcing negotiated the original FM contract, understands the innovative capabilities of suppliers, has heard many recent pitches on new products, and is adept at performing the analysis that proves an investment can have a significant return in hard costs, and even soft costs.

Mary Zampino, Senior Director of Global Sourcing Intelligence

The Business Case for Ethical Sourcing Practices

Ethical sourcing best practices.

In my time working in the sourcing sphere I have become passionate about ethical sourcing. Mexico, where I have lived for nearly eight years, is where many companies source cheap, nearshore labor and is a resource for bilingual, cost-saving talent. I have witnessed unethical sourcing practices in my time here and I am always looking to educate myself and others on the benefits of ethical sourcing. As companies chase better costs to remain viable, the possibility of building a supply chain with poor ethical practices increases. Ensuring ethical sourcing practices in your supply chain can be labor intensive but the benefits are immense.

According to the  Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply (CIPS), ethical sourcing is the process of ensuring the products being sourced are obtained in a responsible and sustainable way, that the workers involved in making them are safe and treated fairly and that environmental and social impacts are taken into consideration during the sourcing process. Ethical sourcing also means the procurement process respects international standards against criminal conduct and human rights abuses and responds to these issues immediately if identified. 

The good news is that  84 percent of businesses report having a supplier code of conduct  in place to ensure ethical sourcing practices.

Hailey Corr, Junior Editor and Marketing Associate, Outsource and SIG