A few weeks into 2018, with the end-of-year frenzy well enough behind us, it is a good time to reflect on the past twelve months, review major developments and milestones, and see where they have taken us.
In short, 2017 was the tenth consecutive year of exponential progress and a spectacular 12 months for the company. We increased our efforts to improve sustainability in global supply chains, and our network expanded massively as we onboarded more than 8,000 new suppliers. It is clear that the further we grow the stronger our network effect becomes. We see an increasing number of companies requesting CSR ratings and seeking measurable improvements in their business partners’ sustainability practices.
This remarkable growth would not have been possible without expanding our team. We welcomed 150 talented individuals to the organization and opened new offices in London and Toronto. EcoVadis is now present in eight countries across four continents, and we make the most of this geographic reach to ensure we serve our global customers as efficiently and effectively as possible.
Coming of Age
But perhaps the most significant development of all is the realization that the EcoVadis network has come of age. And this is not only in the sense that in May we celebrated our 10-year anniversary – although this, without a doubt, was a major milestone. The coming of age is manifested in our customers’ approach, and the level of “mastery” they have achieved.
In the beginning, 10 years ago, we were all learning together. Today, the customers that have been with us the longest have reached a maturity level where sustainable procurement is ingrained in their strategy, processes and people – and is responsible for protecting and improving brand reputation, driving revenue and mitigating risk. But more than that, our customers now embrace their role in driving best practices down the supply chain and promoting them across their sectors and among their peers.
Over the year, more than 50 customers participated in industry events and webinars sharing their best practices in sustainable procurement. As many as 16 spoke at Sustain, EcoVadis’ flagship event, eight in our webinars and nearly 30 at external events.
What is more, we saw the launch of three industry-wide initiatives last year, bringing the total number to six. Managed by EcoVadis, these sector initiatives represent the most mature phase of collaboration: Several companies in the same industry – whether on a European or an international scale – come together and share tools for assessing and improving ethical, social and environmental practices within their supply chains.
Sector initiatives are a proven model to enable companies in any industry to easily harmonize their supplier CSR performance measurement and increase visibility. The three that were inaugurated last year were:
– AIM-Progress, with six consumer goods companies drawn from 42 multinational FMCG members;
– Pack2Go Europe, bringing together 20 food packaging manufacturers;
– Responsible Beauty, led by suppliers and subcontractors for four cosmetic giants — Clarins, Coty, L’Oreal and Groupe Rocher.
Apart from CSR assessment, these collaborative initiatives are a powerful tool for accelerating the progress of ethical, social and environmental performance among all companies in the supply chain. From combining educational, informative and preparatory actions to anticipating regulatory requirements like the imposition of corruption prevention, these industry-wide initiatives can bring positive change much quicker than is possible when businesses work alone.
Platform Innovation and Customer Empowerment
These major developments on the industry collaboration front were accompanied by innovations to the part of the EcoVadis platform dedicated to sector initiative members. A new solution will help them maximize value across their collective supply chain by sharing knowledge and making the most of supplier assessments. This highly flexible tool is a response to our customers’ maturing needs and an additional incentive for collaboration to drive positive change in the world.
In addition, we launched a new directory with supplier invitation modules that allows all buyers – not just sector initiative members – to find suppliers and request to view their scorecards. And if they find the suppliers they are looking for are not in the database, they can invite them to be assessed. We see this as an extremely empowering tool for our customers and one that makes the process of requesting CSR ratings from a supplier much quicker and virtually seamless. We expect this tool will become increasingly popular as the benefits of sustainable procurement become more widely understood and more buyers are compelled to seek assessment for all of their suppliers.
Maturing Network of Training Partners
It has also been encouraging to see the growth of our network of supplier training partners. They are independent CSR experts who have an in-depth knowledge of EcoVadis methodology and can guide companies on sustainability practices, particularly when they need to improve their ratings. Whether it is CSR management systems, KPI tracking or sustainability programs, these consultants can provide top-notch advice and help companies get their sustainable procurement program off the ground. It is both promising to know that businesses are eager to seek professional guidance to improve their performance and satisfying to see a growing community of those qualified to help.
Into the Future
With a maturing customer network and a constantly growing understating of CSR and the advantages of sustainable supply chains we expect to see even more engagement across all sectors in the coming year. We will continue to support our customers in all their efforts as they shape the future of sustainable procurement.
Have a look at our “Year in Review” infographic