The pressure for companies to solve society’s most pressing problems is growing exponentially, fueled by the gravity of looming issues such as climate change or social inequality. While the majority of companies have already defined their corporate commitment and social impact objectives, many leaders are struggling to implement strategies that actually achieve their aspirations. Considering that 78% of executives believe their companies are failing to deliver on their social impact pledges, there’s a dire need for companies to drive social innovation across each department and generate positive social change through their day-to-day operations.
Amid the changing business landscape, companies are required to achieve two core objectives: generate profits and elevate corporate social responsibility. Due to procurement’s immense purchasing power, more executives are turning to their CPOs to drive innovation and sustainability – all while generating tangible impacts that benefit the communities they operate in. Here’s how procurement leaders can achieve these objectives and simultaneously generate new business value by adding social impact into their sourcing and procurement process.
Wow, who would have thought that I would leave a conference hosted by a supplier and feel better about the world and the impact we can have on it? That is exactly the way I felt not once, but twice, at SAP Ariba Live in Texas and in Barcelona. While I adore Tifenn Dano Kwan’s influencer team, particularly Amisha Gandhi, who is the Vice President of Influencer Marketing, and Gale Daikoku, the Global Communities and Ambassador Program Lead, the person who struck a chord most deeply with me was Padmini Ranganathan. She’s the Global Vice President of Sustainability and Risk with SAP Ariba. What first struck me as odd was the combination of “sustainability” and “risk” in her title.
Often when people think of sustainability, they think of one of these two definitions:
“It’s not enough to have lived, we should be determined to live for something” – Leo F. Buscaglia
The pursuit of greater meaning sits at the pinnacle of human nature. It reflects within all that we do, in our lives, and in our professions. As procurement or sourcing professionals, we strive every day to make a difference in the business, to solve problems while creating business value. The words “sustainability”, “sustainable”, and “impact” are commonplace these days in the procurement and sourcing world as the industry pushes towards a new future in sustainable business – but what can we really do to drive true change?
We believe Procurement has the expertise to drive sustainability while delivering the highest standard of work and championing continuous improvement in business by integrating our processes with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).
Amidst all the various measures in the world today, the UN SDGs provides a solid benchmark for sustainable procurement and sourcing for the following reasons:
Jane Zhang is the Co-Founder of ETCH Sourcing, a Canada based consultancy specializing in providing strategy and execution services in the sourcing, procurement and category management space. She loves people, solving problems, and has years of expertise working throughout the entire sourcing spectrum, from building and executing multi-million-dollar tactical strategies, to being entrusted with some of the most complex and strategic contractual negotiations on business-critical projects. Graduating from the Haskayne School of Business twice over with a Bachelor of Commerce in Marketing and an MBA in Finance with a focus on Global Energy Management and Sustainability, she has returned to build and teach business contract negotiations with her Co-Founder as a part of giving back and elevating her alma mater.
Jane is passionate about education is a member for multiple boards, most notable is her role as Board Director and Chief Operating Officer of a non-profit designed to connect children aged 8-13 with industry learning and development through play.
Jane’s latest passion is to champion the role of sustainability in procurement and is celebrating the launch of ETCH’s sustainable procurement offering, which integrates the UN SDGs as a sustainability function into the procurement process from an end-to-end perspective.
“Impact sourcing results in a more engaged and motivated workforce for companies, and enables them to increase their global competitiveness.” — The Rockefeller Foundation
You need the work done and there are countries that are disadvantaged, war-torn or underemployed that have motivated, educated workers who can perform the work you need. It truly is the correct choice. Why continue outsourcing to developed countries or countries in which the vast majority of people already have access to the middle class?
Did you know that outsourcing to India is the number one reason it now has a thriving middle class? Are you aware that through outsourcing an entire generation was lifted out of poverty in both China and India? Do you know that when you outsource to a country, it can change the trajectory of people’s lives? In a 2003 speech, Anne Krueger, First Deputy Managing Director of the IMF stated that the impacts of globalization have benefited both India and China by lifting millions of people out of poverty since 1980 and putting tens of millions of people firmly into the middle class. In addition, China has seen their extreme poverty rate fall from 84 percent to about 10 percent largely because of trade, reports the Economist.