PRO Point of View: Pascale de Felix, Global Sourcing Director – Methods, Tools & Responsible Sourcing at the Bel Group

November 26, 2019 EcoVadis ‏‏‎

Groupe Bel

Launched in 2018 with Shui Mahieu, Sustain gave us an opportunity to embellish our gallery with portraits of responsible purchasing professionals. Following Mathilde Goussault de Bonduelle and Thibault de Montrion d’Orange, we now have a portrait of Pascale de Felix from the Bel Group.

Pascale de Felix, Global Sourcing Director – Methods, Tools & Responsible Sourcing (Bel Group)

“Companies have an essential role in building a more sustainable development model by improving their supply chain practices”

Pascale de Felix has been with the Bel Group for 30 years and represents them in the AIM-Progress sector association. She is the Global Sourcing Director – Methods, Tools & Responsible Sourcing, and she has 10 years of experience in Responsible Purchasing.

Pascale, how did you get into responsible purchasing?

After completing a master’s degree in business administration at NEOMA Business School and some 20 years in marketing, I joined the Bel Group Purchasing Department in 2008. 

First, I was responsible for purchasing promotional items and business gifts, a category that represents a very small weight in our purchasing volume but also a high risk to the environment, society, and the reputation of our brand (e.g., through manufacturing conditions, complex supply chain, etc.).

Two years after I started working in purchasing, the Group’s General Management expressed its willingness to deploy the CSR approach to all operational entities. To do this, a network of about 20 business CSR correspondents – including myself – was set up with the main mission of co-creating CSR policies and supporting their implementation in our respective fields of expertise.

I have been working as a CSR referent for several years in addition to my position as head of purchasing for non-production goods and services. For the past two years, this mission has been an integral part of my new position as Director of Tools, Methods and CSR Group Purchasing.

In a professional career, the evolution towards responsible purchasing and social responsibility is not a coincidence. If we take care of these tasks, it is because we are personally convinced of their importance! Beyond the efforts that each of us can make individually, companies have an essential role in building a more sustainable development model, by improving their supply chain practices. Faced with climate change and its disastrous consequences for humanity, we must seize appropriate solutions and opportunities now.

Within the network of CSR correspondents, you are responsible for a supplier progress axis. Can you present your mission and the main steps of your responsible purchasing approach?

I am in charge of the progress axis aimed at promoting good social and environmental practices among our suppliers. The performance of our partners is part of our extended responsibility. 

This is what our Chairman and CEO, Antoine Fievet, recently reminded us of: “Our responsibility is not limited to the scope of our activities alone. It extends throughout our entire value chain.”

To engage our suppliers, and therefore our buyers, we took major steps. Alongside the development of our Responsible Purchasing Charter, EcoVadis supported us in raising awareness in our Purchasing Management Committee. They also helped us to define our most critical purchasing categories. In 2009, our first year of collaboration, we launched our first supplier evaluation campaign with a panel representing our purchasing categories and geographical areas.

Recently, we have refined this exercise, now identifying the most exposed categories of purchases through a mapping of CSR-purchasing risks, followed by a mapping of corruption risks (to meet the requirements of the Sapin 2 Law). We are now focusing on transforming the results into tools that can be easily used by buyers for evaluation in their supplier selection process.

The average EcoVadis CSR score of the Bel portfolio is steadily increasing and is now above the average EcoVadis score. What is the role of buyer mobilization in this success?

Purchasing teams are at the heart of the deployment, and it’s a choice that is bearing fruit! Our General Management wanted CSR to be integrated on a daily basis in all business lines. Thus, rather than creating a dedicated Responsible Purchasing structure, each buyer is responsible for managing the CSR risk in their portfolio.  

Our suppliers’ strong CSR performance demonstrates the continuous improvement dynamic in which our suppliers are engaged, thanks precisely to the mobilization of the purchasing teams at their side. 

Our actions focus on people and tools:

  • Network: setting up a network of convinced and motivated CSR-purchasing correspondents within the purchasing community to help me implement the Responsible Purchasing approach. 
  • Training: developing and updating an e-learning course on Responsible Purchasing. Since 2014, we have been providing e-learning dedicated to CSR and responsible purchasing to all central and local buyers. We are working on revising the training system so that all newcomers to the purchasing community adopt good practices and contribute to this progress.
  • Tools and rules for managing evaluation results: developing  management rules based on the results of EcoVadis scores (frequency of re-evaluation and criteria) 
  • Supplier Relationship Management (SRM): in case of high scores, strengthening collaboration and seeking eco-design cooperation. In case of an average score, discussing a corrective action plan. During the annual supplier evaluation process, part of the rating is devoted to CSR, including EcoVadis scores. 
  • In the context of calls for tenders, buyers are asked to invite new suppliers to be evaluated on the platform to integrate their score into the selection criteria.
  • The implementation of a management plan with a choice of relevant indicators and quantified objectives, as well as a system of incentives in the remuneration of buyers. 

In order to ensure a relevant deployment of the Responsible Purchasing approach, CSR issues must be integrated at each stage of our purchasing processes to make it a virtuous circle. 

You represent the Bel Group in the EcoVadis AIM-Progress initiative, which includes seven consumer goods companies. What is your objective?

The Bel Group has been a member of AIM-Progress since 2016. The association brings together major companies in the consumer goods sector and aims to positively influence people’s lives through the combined effect of robust responsible-purchasing practices applied throughout their supply chains. The core activity of the organization is the pooling of on-site audits– from 4000 in 2010, to 21,000 audits in 2018. 

We seek to create the same dynamic of sharing documented CSR supplier evaluations (“Mutual Recognition is not only about audits”) to reduce the duplication of evaluation requests and encourage transparency in value chains in the consumer goods sector. This initiative has two components:

Bel and six other AIM-PROGRESS members using the EcoVadis platform share their suppliers’ evaluations (with prior agreement) on the platform;

AIM-Progress members who do not use EcoVadis receive a list of evaluated suppliers at regular intervals, giving them the opportunity to ask suppliers to share these evaluations.

The advantages of these sectoral initiatives are, above all, the lever of mutualisation and cooperation within a network of agri-food sector members: sharing of common practices and challenges.

Voluntary and supervised mutualisation grants access to new suppliers committed to these areas. In terms of performance, the rate of sharing evaluations remains our common challenge.

Finally, a word about your EcoVadis experience?

The Bel Group was EcoVadis’ first customer in the agri-food sector, and we have been using the solution since 2009. 

EcoVadis was a start-up then, and we were quickly convinced that the platform provided buyers with a simple and reliable solution for evaluating suppliers’ CSR performance by experts in the field. The EcoVadis platform also seemed to be the most appropriate solution for meeting our challenges because it went beyond risk management and compliance. 

Thanks to EcoVadis, we have taken a major step forward by successfully integrating social responsibility into daily exchanges with suppliers and into our purchasing processes, using the EcoVadis score in our supplier selection and evaluation.

We also use EcoVadis to regularly assess the Bel Group’s CSR performance. The evaluation results provide us with clear visibility into the Group’s progress using  the CSR approach. It also helps us to identify our areas for improvement. It presents us with an opportunity to discuss key issues in our business sector with EcoVadis experts. Our comments are taken into account for further refining of the questionnaire or for the collection of supporting data.

“My EcoVadis experience in a few words: customer focus – responsiveness and availability; ease of use of the platform; continuous improvement; technology; and shared efforts.”

A big thank you to Pascale for agreeing to have her picture taken!

Interview at Sustain 2019. 

The Bel Group is a major player in the healthy snacking segment with a turnover of 3.3 billion euros in 2018. 12,600 employees in some 30 subsidiaries around the world contribute to the Group’s success. They have 32 production sites distributed in nearly 130 countries. Its “Each portion commits us” program guides the Group’s positive innovation approach.

About the Author

EcoVadis ‏‏‎

EcoVadis is the world’s most trusted provider of business sustainability ratings, intelligence and collaborative performance improvement tools for global supply chains. Backed by a powerful technology platform and a global team of domain experts, EcoVadis’ easy-to-use and actionable sustainability scorecards provide detailed insight into environmental, social and ethical risks across 190 purchasing categories and 150 countries.

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