Is it Worth Fighting for Sustainable Procurement?

Why procurement professionals must drive supplier innovation in order to keep up the fight for a sustainable planet.

Sustainable Procurement Fight

As a procurement professional it can sometimes be a little bit challenging to keep up the motivation to pursue a more sustainable planet. News headlines and science reports reflect a world which is developing in the wrong direction.

Oceans are becoming more acidic, with devastating results on coral and connected ecosystems. The air in major cities is full of high levels of dangerous particulates. Crop-growing regions for key commodities are shifting. Sea levels are rising.

At the end of the day, is there still hope for you, me and the planet? In this article I will put focus on some of the positive signs we can see. Let me be clear – it is still worth fighting for sustainable procurement, the planet and the generations to come.

Greater Transparency

Transparency is growing. It’s harder and harder to hide malfeasance. Carbon emissions are disclosed. Everyone is online everywhere, and we have easy access to information, and the ability to pictures of something that we dislike at any given time of the day. And if you fail, even as a company, the public will collectively judge and give the verdict.

Even in procurement we are working with tools, like the Ecovadis sustainability rating system, where the performance of the suppliers is evaluated. Not only for the sake of performance, but also because we want companies to change. To create impact driven approaches.

Regulators and Heroes Show the Way

It is obvious that the more transparent we get, the more the regulators act. More and more companies and public actors disclose their behaviour, and this leads to actions amongst regulators who create climate treaties, introduce carbon taxation, or hand down regulations to markets.

Investors have even started incorporating sustainability and ESG risk into their calculations on where to invest their money.

Heroes are among us. Alongside the great minds in science, many individual policy-makers, business leaders, farmers and consumers are making millions of decisions and taking small steps, every day, to reduce their impact or improve the planet.

The vast majority of people want to take care of their world, and science and the media are providing the tools and knowledge to help them do so. Lights are being turned off. Public transport systems are being built and used. Less food is being wasted. Each of us wants to be a hero.

Fostering Innovation and Collaboration

Innovation matters. Enormous investments are being made. These efforts, many of which are being driven by the best minds in academic and business labs, will without a doubt deliver solutions to many of our environmental challenges. It’s a question of when, not if.

Collaboration is happening. Competitors are talking to each other and to policy-makers around how to share best practices to reduce costs and improve efficiencies. Solutions to global sustainability problems are too big for any one country or company to solve.

Integrating Sustainable Supplier Innovation

We should not forget that a company’s ability to build close partnerships with innovative suppliers is directly correlated with the firms successful innovation performance. Companies which include their suppliers in the innovation process seem to financially outperform their peers that do not.

It is a fact that 90 per cent of companies do not include their suppliers in their innovation processes. 69.9 per cent of corporate revenue is directed towards externalised, supplier driven cost. Suppliers should be viewed as an extension of the company and, as such, they should be incentivised, coached, sanctioned and rewarded to help achieve corporate objectives.

The message is clear: we need to keep fighting for sustainable procurement, the planet, and the generations to come. We can make a start by integrating suppliers closer to the innovation processes.