Tag Archives: opportunity

Define your sustainable procurement strategy with the SDGs


Cliff and blue seaSince their adoption, there is an ongoing discussion how SDGs can be integrated and used by businesses; indeed, the SDGs explicitly name companies as contributors to a solution for sustainable development challenges. This article describes how the SDGs can be used as a framework for sustainable procurement strategy.

Sustainable procurement means turning risks into opportunities

Many risks companies face today are located in the supply chain and refer to reputation (corporate image) and strategy. First, deficits in the supply chain can damage a company’s reputation severely. This refers both to social and environmental issues; a widely known example is BP whose reputation was damaged due to the company’s handling of the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe. While every supply chain issue can cause direct financial cost for a company, reputation damage is something which can last for a very long time and which can hit a company in multiple ways. Despite lower sales, a reputation damage can for example also discourage talented people from applying for a job at the company.

Secondly, it can also be a strategic risk for a company not to manage its supply chain properly. If future scarcities of resources which are essential for a company’s operations are not properly accounted for in the strategy, and if a company is therefore not prepared to future price rises, it endangers its economic viability in the long term.

To tackle such risks, companies can implement sustainable procurement. It means that they can set standards that their suppliers need to follow. It consists of integrating sustainability criteria into the supply chain. On the one hand, risks are reduced. Indeed, if the supplier environmental system is solid, accidents and crisis should be solved quicker, reducing operational risks. If there is sound social dialogue and decent working conditions, there are less risks of strikes and of related production disruption. If human rights are respected, the reputation risk is managed. In the other hand, companies can benefit from various opportunities: more collaboration, more trust, innovation and new products, customer satisfaction, …

How can now the SDGs help companies to address and structure supply chain management?

You can tune your sustainable procurement strategy with the SDGs

The SDGs essentially represent a framework which addresses the full scope of sustainability topics and actors. The strength of this framework lies in its global acceptance and popularity; thus, using this framework for CSR communications means lowering the threshold of stakeholders to understand and back a company’s CSR strategy, including the sustainable procurement strategy.

The SDG Compass, issued by the Global Reporting Initiative gives an overview, how companies can link these targets to their business. By means of a high-level mapping of their value chain, companies can first identify topics where impacts are likely to occur. In the end, it should be clear whether core competencies, technologies and product portfolio of a company have rather positive or rather negative influence. This mapping process includes external stakeholder participation which adds additional aspects and points of view to the process. It is highly important to interact with the suppliers to understand what the impacts are, and where they occur. Indeed, in some cases such impacts are located only in the supply chain. For example, any retailer will avoid the potential risks linked to manufacturing, like occupational health and safety linked to machine use and high resource consumption. To do so, companies can ask suppliers about such risks during business reviews, make a quick analysis of their website or resort to risk databases.

After the mapping, a company should set measurable and time-bound goals to reflect the priorities and adopt related indicators. Such indicators express the relation between the company’s activities and the impact on stakeholders, and data for these indicators should be collected. Depending on the magnitude, severity and likelihood of current and potential negative impacts, a company then prioritizes indicators. Indicators linked to the supply chain need to reflect actual actions: share of suppliers considered at risk, share of suppliers audits, share of suppliers completing corrective action plan, share of successful re-audits, number of products including new sustainable features thanks to supplier collaboration, …

These preconditions met, a company is ready to integrate sustainability into its sourcing practices. In the case of supply chain, active leadership by the procurement management is key to implement the company’s requirements. A shared understanding of how value is created by becoming more sustainable help to anchor the set sustainable procurement strategy. In this sense, the company needs to communicate such requirements to the procurement department, who then interacts with the suppliers. Another best practice is the integration of sustainability goals into supplier performance reviews.

Finally, progress has to be constantly reported in order to demonstrate credibility. Results should be communicated to both suppliers and buyers. To ensure transparency throughout the supply chain, it is important to communicate such results publically. Indeed, clients of the company might also want to want to know what happens in the upstream supply chain. In this sense, the use internationally recognized reporting standards such as GRI, CDP or others is recommended in order to achieve comparability between companies.

For more information, contact us at info@dfge.de or visit our page on Sustainability Management.

Advertisements

Towards more due diligence in the supply chain


Background story: The majority of our blog posts deals with CSR topics; we write about the latest developments in this field and try to relate it to a company’s daily business. Our background stories have a different perspective: Here, we explain trends, scientific background and societal implications of corporate sustainability – sometimes with a personal touch.

 

7278660

Due diligence in the supply chain

Our partner EcoVadis recently hosted the Sustain event. EcoVadis unlocks the power of transparency in the supply chain, enabling buyers and suppliers to communicate on the results of a sustainability assessment through a collaborative platform. As such, EcoVadis offers a tool for sustainable procurement management, e.g. including social and environmental criteria within the supply chain. This topic has gained so much momentum over the past few years that it is now the object of legislation.  We try to explain thisphenomenon in this blog article, while describing solutions for companies faced with such issues.

Lack of transparency in the supply chain with outsourced impacts

Outsourcing has been growing for the past two decades. According to Deloitte, “the last two decades have been a significant rise in offshoring to external service providers”[1], though a small portion of companies are bringing some outsourced functions back to their home country. In this sense, the environmental and social impacts of production are now still mainly located in the supply chain level. Some events showed that the risks still exist and that scandals impacted the whole supply chain.

In April 2013, the Rana Plaza building collapsed, leaving more than 1,100 casualties and thousands of people injured in Bangladesh[2]. This building housed five factories for the garment industry. This disaster was covered by the media and shed light on the fact that clients don’t know what happen in their supply chain, and that basic safety rules and laws are not applied there. According to the Guardian, “investigators say several factors contributed to the building’s collapse: it was overloaded with machines and generators, constructed on swampy land, and the owner added floors in violation of the original building plan”.[3]

The same year, Europe was stained by the scandal of horsemeat, where horsemeat was sold as beef, showing the lack of transparency within a globalized supply chain. Many other examples could be found in this sense, but our point here is that there is a need for companies to tackle somehow these issues in their supply chain, for the suppliers’ sakes as well as theirs and their clients. [4]

Legislation as a driver for companies to tackle these issues

After these scandals, governments decided to act and to boost companies. Here are a few developments from the past three years.

Since May 2015, companies responding to certain criteria need to publish a statement on the actions they take to prevent slavery and human trafficking, according to the UK Modern Slavery Act.

In the US, the California Transparency in Supply Chain Act, some companies need to disclose in their websites the company’s actions to prevent such abuses.

France is trying to do the same, the bill on due diligence is still in validation by the government instances[5].

In case of non-compliance, some actions can be taken. In any case, companies will suffer from brand-damage, pressure from stakeholders, potential lawsuits …

These developments show that working conditions can be at risk in the supply chain, and that client companies have the power to investigate and require some practices from their suppliers. How can they tackle such issues?

Due diligence in the supply chain: solutions

First we recommend companies to edict clear requirements and made commitments, in the shape of public policies and statements

Then, companies need to let their suppliers/subcontractors know these requirements, so that they can act accordingly.

Suppliers don’t have the same level of risk according to their location, activity or size. We suggest companies to proceed to a risk-mapping. According to the level of risks, actions can be taken.

For instance, suppliers can be asked to be evaluated on their sustainability management system, for instance through EcoVadis or other sustainability assessments platforms.

For suppliers with high-risk level, we recommend having regular audits there, on sustainability topics, made by third parties, and by some members of the companies.

Then, what is key is collaboration and transparency. It is important that buyers, who are in touch with suppliers on a daily basis, are aware of such requirements, to explain them and pass it over to the suppliers. In this sense, we suggest different tools and approaches: training of buyers, dedicated team to help buyers in this sense; business reviews between suppliers and buyers, supplier scorecard including such topics, …

Reaching to your supplier is one thing. Reaching to the supplier of your supplier is another thing. In this sense, we recommend the use of EcoVadis as it enables to cascade requirements in the supply chain. Indeed, clients have their suppliers rated on their sustainability management system, including on how the suppliers handle their supplier sustainability management. Then, if the suppliers improve their own sustainable procurement practices, companies already reach another level in their supply chain.

Finally, we think that collaboration and knowledge sharing is key to success. We advise companies to train their suppliers, raise awareness through handbooks and code of conduct, organize seminars etc.

Last but not least, partnership with a local NGOs can help address the issues on the field and have more visibility on what is happening in the high-risk zones.

We know that it is hard for companies to reach such levels of the supply chain. However, we hope that this articles gives inspiration to solve such complex issues. If you are interested in solutions and consulting services, please contact us at info@dfge.de or consult our EcoVadis webpage.

Resources:

Article on latest regulations http://www.supplychainbrain.com/content/single-article-page/article/the-emerging-compliance-hot-topic-for-2016-regulations-regarding-trafficked-coerced-labor/

UK Modern Slavery Act: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2015/30/contents/enacted

 California Transparency in Supply Chain Act: http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/164934.pdf

Sources:

[1] P.5, Deloitte’s 2014 Global Outsourcing and Insourcing industry http://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/us/Documents/strategy/us-2014-global-outsourcing-insourcing-survey-report-123114.pdf

[2] http://www.cleanclothes.org/safety/ranaplaza

[3] http://www.theguardian.com/world/rana-plaza

[4] http://ec.europa.eu/food/food/horsemeat/

[5] https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/mandatory-human-rights-due-diligence-government-1-devoir-poitevin?trk=hp-feed-article-title-share

The Economist – Wie Unternehmen Umweltrisiken veröffentlichen (müssen)


Immer mehr Unternehmen veröffentlichen Daten zu Chancen und Risiken im Bereich Umwelt. Nicht nur im CDP (www.cdp.net) werden bereits von 4500 Unternehmen Daten zu CO2-Emissionen und Umweltauswirkungen abgefragt. Auch die US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)  verlangt eine Veröffentlichung von Umweltdaten in Geschäftsberichten. Ebenso die Regierung von Großbritannien, die schon seit längerer Zeit die CO2-Daten großer Firmen erhebt und plant, dies auf weitere Sektoren auszuweiten.

Auch die EU hat ein Gesetz auf den Weg gebracht, um Umweltdaten für größere Unternehmen verpflichtend in die Geschäftsberichte mit aufzunehmen.

Jüngstes Beispiel für den großen Druck seitens der Investoren ist Exxon Mobil. Diese Firma hätte wahrscheinlich genügend Gründe an einer transparenteren Umweltpolitik zu arbeiten – aber der eigentliche Hebel war lt. einem Bericht des economist  Arjuna Capital. Eine Investmentfirma, die explizit nach Hintergründen zu Chancen und Risiken im Bereich Umwelt gefragt hat. Immer mehr Investoren ziehen solche Kriterien in die Investitionsentscheidung mit ein. Dass nun auch die CDP-Bewertung bei der Deutschen Börse auftaucht ist nur ein Anfang.

Mehr zum CDP erfahren Sie hier.