Just last month, when thousands of people took time away from their day-to-day, to gather to focus on Sustainable Procurement at the 2021 Sustain event. There was an air of anticipation, with a whiff of panic. The 5000+ registrants and 3000+ attendees (over twice the number from last year and ten times the number just five years ago) are a testament to how Covid and all the calamity of 2020 has moved the supply chain into a very bright spotlight. A year as disastrous as 2020 demands a deep strategic rethink of how we approach, value, build and optimize our value chains, with an ESG/Sustainability lens.
Procurement, supply chain and sustainability leaders alike are groping for guidance on how they can rebuild better and more resilient supply chains in the face of such massive uncertainty. There is a visceral passion and ambition by the sustainable procurement community to reinvent. But along with this spirit was an unsettling mix of uncertainty, anxiety, and trepidation about HOW to do it right.
Four Ways we Must RETHINK Supply Chain
We see four key factors that we must RETHINK about supply chain sustainability, which sets a framework and direction for launching or accelerating a sustainable procurement program to meet the needs of the New Normal.
- Rethink Supply Chain Strategy: What are we optimizing for? We’re now moving from “just in time” (optimizing for costs, reduced inventory, etc.) to “just in case”: Supply Chain resilience as a strategic differentiator, with CEO visibility.
- Rethink Value Chain Participation. The Crisis is driving an acceleration in inequalities, not only individuals and communities, but also businesses - some doing well while others suffered or never recovered. We must rethink how we grow, inclusively, through solidarity in ecosystems.
- Rethink Finance, From Constraint to Opportunity. Cost constraints have always been a bottleneck to sustainability. How many times have we heard “We can't approve this sustainability project because the CFO feels the time-to-ROI is too long.” Things are changing fast. ESG / Sustainable Finance seems to be the number one priority for banks and CFOs alike. How many “earning calls” have you heard without a session on ESG? With record ESG fund inflows, how will you transform your portion of this 17Tn, to leverage Finance as a positive incentive for sustainable growth for your supply base?
- Rethink Monitoring: From Analog/on-site to Digital/Remote. Canceled audits were emblematic of the need for this shift away from ‘analog’ processes toward digitally integrated intelligence - both predictive and primary data-based - that scale at the speed of cloud platforms, and fit seamlessly into processes and ecosystems.
Procurement has never been more strategically positioned to take a leading role in such a transformation. It will require rallying peers and leaders across your executive team and organization. Operations, Product/service, Sales, Brand/Marketing, Finance, HR, etc. - all have a stake in the multi-faceted upside of building a more sustainable and resilient value chain. Now is the time to seize the moment.
Want to hear more on how to rebuild better? Check out the session “Rethink, Rebuild: Leveraging Sustainable Procurement to Reinvent Your Supply Chain” at the upcoming SIG Procurement Technology Summit on Wednesday, May 5 at 12:20 PM ET.
Emily is currently the Chief Marketing Officer of EcoVadis, the world’s most trusted business sustainability ratings company. She brings over 25 years’ experience in sourcing and procurement solutions to the role, having previously spent many years in global marketing and demand management with both SAP and Ariba. Emily has also worked in leadership roles at Ellucian, A.T. Kearney Procurement Solutions, Creative Good, and A.T. Kearney Consulting managing marketing functions and consulting engagements for clients in the high technology, banking and energy industries. Emily holds an M.B.A. from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management and a B.A. in International Relations from Stanford University.