At Procurement Leaders World Procurement Congress 15 Shelley Stewart, CPO – DuPont, talked about the challenges of embedding sustainability into procurement processes.
Why care about sustainability at all? That was the question posed by Shelley’s thought-provoking opening, before making the observation that although different places in the world feel differently about sustainability – ultimately it is an issue that affects all supply chains.
As evidenced by the following statement, sustainability is already hard-baked into DuPont and reflected in its core values: “DuPont is a science company. We work collaboratively to find sustainable, innovative, market-driven solutions to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges, making lives better, safer, and healthier for people everywhere.”
But while it’s nice to be sustainable, is there a real business value, after-all how do you quantify the value of sustainability?
Shelley points out that sustainability provides your business with mitigation strategies to risks in your supply chain. If we’re not doing much for sustainability then it creates a risk in itself.
Shelley says that at DuPont there was a sharp focus on saving targets, and conversely sustainability was in the distant background. Crucially, there was no one in the business for the CSO to call in the procurement organisation to talk to about supplier sustainability. In DuPont’s case they didn’t have a unified approach.
Happily this has since changed and you only need look as far as the company’s EHS programming slogan which once read ‘the goal is zero’ – and now ‘committed to zero’ for evidence of this fact. Shelley notes that DuPont has also appointed a single person to a centralised position to manage sustainability.
What lessons has DuPont learnt?
First you must learn what sustainability really means for you (in the context of your supply chain). However you must appreciate that the answer may be different for each one of your supply chains.
It’s also important to take onboard external perspectives – you will benefit greatly from peer to peer learning.
Specifically in DuPont’s case it was important to remind people that the work wasn’t being started from scratch. There was a foundation to build on, no matter how tentative that may have been.
It’s imperative that you create a unified approach and save yourself a lot of extra work by doing something ten different ways. At the same time “one size doesn’t fit all” – you’ll need to adopt a certain amount of flexibility to be able to understand changes in your supply chains.
Of course you might find that your supply chain and your suppliers are already ahead you in the sustainability stakes. Why not use their learnings to better realise your own initiatives? It is important to stress that sustainability is a mindset, not a checklist – we must encourage people to think differently if we are going to succeed.