COVID-19 has created a ripple effect of disruption through supply chains across the world, causing many companies to assess their weak spots and reevaluate their operations to ensure future resiliency and continuity.
Rebounding from the current crisis with more solid resilience is itself creating immense value. Forward-thinking companies are looking a step further, perhaps with the climate crisis clearly in view. They are leveraging sustainability and purpose – with an upside creating long-term value across a wide range of business levers, from competitive differentiation, grow sales revenue, supplier innovation to support future circular business models, talent recruitment and retention.
Procurement’s Key Role in Turning Purpose into Profit
With momentum growingtoward stakeholder capitalism, businesses have made a greater commitment to sustainable purpose through reducing emissions of greenhouse gas, limiting plastic use, providing decent working conditions and more. The recent COVID-19 pandemic hasbrought risk mitigation and resiliency top-of-mind – and we’re seeing clear proof points that sustainable procurement is the answer.
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, Vice President – Content, Research & Analytics
The concept of sustainable sourcing, also known as green purchasing or social sourcing, is nothing new. Sustainable sourcing is impacting nearly every area of corporate business and the consumer’s mindset. Everything from sourcing materials, talent attraction and consumer purchasing habits are changing because of the growth of sustainable sourcing. However, the term gets thrown around in the procurement industry quite a lot and is often misunderstood or misused. So, here’s a guide with all the basics you need to know about sustainable sourcing.
WHAT IS SUSTAINABLE SOURCING
First and foremost, we have to define the term. Sustainable sourcing is the integration of social, ethical and environmental performance factors into the process of selecting suppliers. It includes purchasing sustainably preferable products and services (products made from recycled or remanufactured materials), as well as green purchasing guidelines that might pertain to certain products or commodities.
“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.