There’s a lot more to sustainable procurement than making ethical and environmentally friendly purchasing decisions. For smart, forward-thinking businesses, incorporating good sustainable procurement practices into your business strategy can significantly reduce operational risk, protect revenues and safeguard employees and customers. Read on to find out how sustainable procurement can help your business.
What is sustainable procurement?
In a nutshell, sustainable procurement is making a commitment to purchase goods or services that consider wider public and environmental interests as well as those of the business. This includes choosing ethical or green suppliers and opting for companies who advocate social good, diversity, equality and inclusion.
Why is sustainable procurement important?
Sustainable procurement is important for a number of reasons. Here are just some of the benefits to businesses, regardless of sector or size.
Helps save money and controls costs through transparent and rigorous procurement processes.
Helps cut waste, reduce carbon emissions and lowers energy and fuel consumption.
Improves understanding and visibility of supply chain and helps create robust procurement strategies.
Helps mitigate risks to business and supply chain.
Boosts staff morale and makes employees proud to work for you.
Improves internal processes and assessment protocols.
Shows a long-term commitment to sustainable, ethical business practices and good corporate governance.
Helps comply with environmental and social legislation and regulations.
Improves business reputation and bolsters PR.
Improves local business community
How does sustainable procurement affect industries?
A 2017 study by EcoVadis and HEC revealed 97 percent of the 120 supply chain professionals surveyed placed a high level of importance on sustainable procurement, with an impressive 50 percent reporting increased revenue from sustainability initiatives. These figures clearly indicate a long-term, genuine commitment from the business world to play their part in protecting the planet and creating a healthier, happier society.
All companies, regardless of sector or industry have a sustainability agenda with the more forward thinking having clearly defined, robust processes in place that are regularly updated and reviewed. Thanks to the powerful message of programs like Blue Planet, companies are moving beyond playing lip service to greener procurement processes and really doing something about it. Historically, businesses predominantly chose suppliers based on cost, speed of delivery and quality. Fortunately, in today’s more enlightened, progressive society business leaders seek out suppliers that can deliver the right services, at competitive costs and with greater societal benefits and less impact on the environment. Even huge energy companies and industrial conglomerates are proudly flying the sustainability procurement flag as this list of the top 25 sustainble companies in 2018 demonstrates.
Adopting sustainable procurement practices encourages businesses to look beyond financial rewards, foster altruistic strategies and take pride in achieving long-term environmentally and socially conscious goals. We all want to be part of something positive. Sustainable procurement processes are an effective and straightforward way of showing you care.
How does sustainable procurement affect employees?
Put simply, employees are far more likely to be loyal advocates of your business if they feel you are doing the right thing; for them, their colleagues, your customers, the planet and society as a whole. If you demonstrate a genuine commitment to best practice in sustainable procurement your employees will be proud to work for you and will have greater confidence in your commitment to their happiness and wellbeing.
From a procedural point of view, colleagues that are involved with managing procurement should enjoy better devised and managed processes and feel they are working within a robust, strategically-driven environment. The benefits to working with long-standing, trusted suppliers are clear and with the emphasis firmly placed on good ethics, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility and solid environmental goals as well as quality and competitive costings, these relationships are highly likely to be successful – for all parties.
Sustainable procurement practices encourage innovation among colleagues. They can look beyond the usual siloed approach and identify solutions and better ways of working where sustainability is integral to business success and not merely an afterthought.
Bramwith’s upcoming conference on sustainable procurement best practice
In March Bramwith conducted a study among 150 members of our community which revealed an overwhelming need for businesses to incorporate sustainable procurement practices into the overall business strategy. With this in mind, we are hosting a free Sustainability Procurement Conference on Tuesday 18th June at 8am – 1pm. This event is free to attend and will address the issues above and provide a platform for discussion on how to incorporate these valuable ideas and practices into your business.
This will be an opportunity for procurement professionals to listen to the stories of individuals who have been successful in their goal of implementing a sustainable procurement function. The speakers will come from different industries and will talk through their goals and challenges, in the hope that we will be able to see a common practice, regardless of industry.
For more information on attending the conference please contact Amit Desai (email@example.com) or Declan McElroy (firstname.lastname@example.org) on 02071384100.
The interview process can be a challenging time for both the candidate and the interviewer. Both parties have a lot at stake and are seeking the perfect fit, now and in the long-term. Often the onus is on the interviewee making errors but recruiters can mess up too.
The procurement and supply chain sector is highly competitive and companies may struggle to find the right candidate to grow their business. We take a look at how to mitigate mistakes when hiring in the procurement and supply chain sector.
Think about the changing needs of your business
A common mistake when formulating a job spec is to simply do what’s been done before. This is a particular problem when you’re replacing someone who has been in a role for a long time. Approach the spec with an open mind. How has the role requirement changed in the last few years? What are the needs of the business currently and what skills and attributes would benefit you most now, and into the future? It might be worth locating the job spec of the person who previously had the role. Highlight any activities or skills that are still important and get rid of those that are redundant. Think about how the market has changed and what your client profile is like now. What are the risks that you are exposed to and are there any foreseeable threats?
Recruiting candidates with the right technical skills should be a priority. With advancements in technology such as cryptocurrencies and AI, you must make sure you have the right people around you to remain competitive. If you’re thinking of adopting new technologies (and if you aren’t, you might want to consider why) then you’ll not only need the talent that can manage the tech directly; AI experts, etc, but you will also need sales and marketing staff that understand this area and data scientists and analytics experts to support the whole projects. You will also need specific IT experts to set up and manage the infrastructure.
If this all sounds a bit challenging, talk to us. We’re specialists in recruiting specifically for the procurement, operations, and supply chain sector - and we’ve got an unrivaled pool of talent across the US.
Ask the right questions - in the right way
Always try to ask a good mix of questions that allow the candidate to explain themselves well. These should include questions that offer the opportunity to demonstrate their technical skills, their ‘soft’ skills such as negotiation and communication, and open-ended questions that allow the candidate to tell a bit more of a story about themselves, so you can get to know the real person. All questions should be positioned so the candidate can provide examples of how they have demonstrated these skills and attributes in their professional lives.
When you have the perfect candidate in front of you it’s tempting to try to guide the conversation so it supports your opinion of them. This isn’t fair on them and it may mean you don’t wind up finding the right candidate. Never ask leading questions or coerce the candidate to answer in a way that reinforces your view, or what you hope theirs will be. Ask open questions, give them plenty of time to answer and don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if either of you has drifted off point. There’s plenty going on in the selection process and it’s natural to get sidetracked or veer off-topic.
Don’t play at being a shrink
While gauging a candidate’s emotional intelligence is vital to recruiting the right cultural fit, you should never be overconfident of your ability to ‘understand’ or ‘know’ people in an interview context. Asking overly familiar or searching questions to find out what makes them tick is rude and inappropriate and likely to make them head for the hills. We’re fond of claiming that we have the ability to get someone as soon as we meet them, but we really don’t. Even if you have a particular first impression of someone, put it to the back of your mind. Be attentive and open-minded and give the candidate the chance to impress you.
Be prepared to answer questions
As an interviewer, you expect to be asked intelligent questions and get intelligent answers. The same is true for a candidate. Naturally, you can’t anticipate all the queries you’ll get but you should definitely have responses prepared for questions about the challenges of the role, general information around business development, how the team structure works, company culture etc.
Some companies are happy to discuss opportunities for advancement from the get-go, but it’s perfectly understandable if you don’t feel it’s appropriate. In these instances, be honest with the candidate. Explain that it isn’t company policy to talk about potential salary increases at this stage but assure them that you’re committed to looking after employees and that the successful candidate’s salary will always be competitive.
Check your bias
Everyone is susceptible to unconscious bias. It’s a natural part of human nature. Rather than denying it, we are better off confronting it, challenging it and making sure it doesn’t affect our decision making. When you’re writing job descriptions or adverts make sure you use inclusive language that a diverse pool of applicants will be receptive to. Only use gender-neutral terms in the spec and consider anonymizing applications. After the interview, write down your first impressions and challenge them against your bias. And be honest. If there’s a chance you might be viewing men as better at handling tough situations and women better at nurturing others then you absolutely, 100% need to own up to it and rectify the problem.
To make the process more measurable and auditable, stick to a concrete interview structure and include tasks or exercises if possible. Always keep a record of all candidate’s interview documents, whether they are successful or otherwise. Providing you commit to treating each person as an individual and challenge any preconceptions you shouldn’t go far wrong.
Don’t make them an offer they might have to refuse
If you find the right candidate don’t risk losing them by making an offer that may insult or deter them. Businesses have budgets to adhere to, and that’s fair enough. But always try to find a balance between protecting your bottom line and getting the right talent to push your business forward.
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