Socially responsible procurement? Six tips for success…

A large part of the impact of organizations on people, the environment and society takes place in the supply chain. So if you as an organization want to improve your impact, you cannot ignore socially responsible procurement (SRP). This means that when purchasing products, raw materials and services, you also pay attention to the social and ecological effects of your suppliers. At Empact we advise organizations that are struggling with realizing a more sustainable form of purchasing, such as recently the CIZ. Our most important advice? Just start. Here are six tips to help you on your way.

1. Connect SRP with the CSR strategy

Precisely because the choices in the field of purchasing have such a major effect on the total impact of your organization, there are often great opportunities here for improving your CSR performance in general. In sectors such as commercial services, for example, it is not easy for companies to achieve a significant CO2 reduction within their own walls (of the climate-neutral building). Outside the walls, so by looking at suppliers, this is often much easier. Our first tip is therefore to see SRP as a promising part of CSR, and to link the SRP strategy to CSR goals.

2. Provide broad assurance in the organization

Good intentions are a start, but for the implementation of SRP it is essential that all noses in the organization point in the same direction. What you still see too often is that management makes decisions and the responsibility for implementation then falls on the shoulders of the buyers. Because decisive intermediaries such as project managers, budget holders and lawyers (or clients) are insufficiently aware of the new policy, this does not get off the ground and a lot of potential impact is lost. So ensure an organization-wide assurance of the SRP policy and make it an integral part of business operations.

3. Strategic focus on risky suppliers

Often companies and organizations have hundreds or even thousands of suppliers with whom they do business. So where do you start with MVI? To reduce your negative impact as quickly as possible, it’s a good idea to take a closer look at the largest and riskiest supply chains and see what they can improve in terms of environmental and social impacts. Which these are, of course, differ per organization, as do the risks. At suppliers of packaging materials, for example, there is often a lot of profit to be made by replacing plastic with biobased materials, while when purchasing coffee, attention can be paid to combating child labour.

4. Engage with strategic product suppliers

When purchasing cleaning products or office supplies, it is quite easy to switch suppliers. With suppliers of strategic products, which are therefore crucial for the business process, this is much more difficult or even impossible. However, by entering into a conversation with the supplier and focusing on collaboration, it often turns out that more is possible than you think. After all, suppliers will also recognize the need for corporate social responsibility, if only for image or ESG ratings.

5. Use Socially Responsible Sourcing Tools

Various tools have been developed to make it easier for companies and organizations to get started with SRP. For example, there is the CSR Risk Checker of CSR Netherlands. This allows you to discover in an instant which international risks you run with your trading activities and how you can limit them. Another useful tool is the MVI criteria tool, developed by PIANOo. This allows you to select extensively described SRI criteria for 45 product groups, which you can then use in tenders, for example. Both tools are free and free for anyone to use, so take advantage of them!

6. Be ambitious, but take small steps

Everything starts with ambition and setting (big) goals. So is socially responsible purchasing. So put dots on the horizon and make these known to everyone in the organization, so that everyone knows which way you want to go. But also be realistic and don’t expect your impact to improve dramatically overnight. This way you avoid disappointments. So divide big goals into small, achievable sub-goals and benefit from the motivation that achieving each goal will bring you.

Would you like to know more about how your organization can successfully implement SRI? Please do not hesitate to contact us. 

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