It is very difficult to convince management to invest in sustainable procurement. It will require not only money and resources, but also time and can involve an overhaul of the entire procurement process. This is why it’s useful to focus on the benefits of sustainable procurement. Ask yourself why you want to sell it to your boss. The reasons you are on board are most probably the same ones they’ll need to be convinced…
A few weeks ago we wrote a brief blog entry about the financial cost benefits to sustainability and sustainable procurement. This is sure to encourage the boss! There is very strong evidence that there are financial benefits to making your supply chain sustainable. Not only in clear cut ways such as cutting your energy use, but also by enhancing employee morale, streamlining processes and cementing relationships with suppliers. This is another way to sell sustainable procurement to your boss: by implementing a sustainable procurement program, you are able to better manage your supply chain, gain control over procurement and are able to foster better relationships with your suppliers. This is not a one-time deal. By assessing your supply chain on the risks they represent (riskier sectors, risky countries) as well as being better placed to identify the sources of innovation in your supply chain, you are more able to weather any oncoming storms, any new regulations (such as the Dodd-Frank Act on Conflict Minerals that has a global scope) and supply chain compliance requirements.
The most recent EcoVadis & HEC study argues that making sustainable procurement part of performance appraisals is a good way to involve unconvinced line managers in the process, but it works as a way for your boss to take ownership as well as a convenient way to assess everyone’s progress.
One of the truly best things about sustainable procurement is that it encourages long term performance thinking, thus avoiding short-sightedness. Procurement is about buying the best supplies for the best prices, but this can never been achieved without ensuring there are no risks tied into the purchase. Risks of supply, risks of brand damage, risks of failure of regulatory compliance, risks of not working with the most innovating suppliers, risks that you cannot afford to buy into.
There are many positive, forward-facing reasons for working on a sustainable procurement program, but the most powerful arguments in favour, the ones most probably paramount to your boss’s change in heart, are about the risks they cannot, should not, and don’t have to be prepared to shoulder.
This article was written by Maria Mursell, CSR Analyst at EcoVadis
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