Why is sustainability important in supply chains?

Social impact can act as a differentiator that creates more value for the supplier and the buyer — it’s a ‘give-win’ situation for all involved. Organisations have to do this intelligently, and offering them an intelligent spend platform can help them drive cost savings, increase sustainability, and, crucially, protect the brand and drive value.

The Boston Consulting Group are calling for Purpose 2.0. Boston Consulting Group found that, in procurement, social impact was thirteen times more likely to be selected than a dollar discount. B2B should be leveraged to lift shareholder value as well as have a positive social impact. There is an inherent shared value in social impact — both the seller and the buyer are bound to benefit. This means that organization will need to consider leveraging social impact that aligns with  business’ corporate goals. CSRHub, for example, provide access to the best sustainability metrics in the business.


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How can organizations can get started? When choosing suppliers, we should care about the purpose and what the business stands for. The organization can lead by example rather than shaming organisations.

Organizations can start to think about issues that they care about, and start to measure it. One idea: any RfP should have a metric on the reduction of plastic. This requirement would transmit to their suppliers which would, in turn, transmit to their suppliers.

When organizations make decisions, they want to focus on supporting sustainability-based businesses. Businesses want to leverage these sustainability efforts.

Organizations need to publish sustainability goals and be transparent about how they are meeting them. For example, SAP publish their information here.

Organizations can get started right away with sustainability initiatives by using data to support their decisions.

Data will give more value and insights on sustainability, thereby providing support to organizations that want to implement sustainability initiatives. Data is needed to support collaboration and give  valuable insights.


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Data can help us to think productively about investing in social impact. Organizations can consider using data as a tool to help organizations to apply social impact initiatives and be agents of social change: all the actions we take as individuals, however small, can really add up. As part of an organizations, we can do so much more.

Where can organisations get data? The Global Impact Sourcing Coalition make great use of data in order to help drive social change. By connecting through the world’s only Impact Sourcing Supplier Directory, they facilitate connections between employers and those looking to take their first steps onto the career ladder, and help to work towards their vision of ensuring that all people have the opportunity to find decent work. Similarly, BSR Collaborative Initiatives create jobs for those most in need through the power of procurement and global supply chains. 

The UN Global Compact provides support to companies to help them do business responsibly, by  helping them align their strategies and operations with the Ten Principles on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, and recognise their fundamental responsibility as businesses in upholding these principles. Furthermore, the UN Sustainable Development Goals, building on the principle of “leaving no one behind” and emphasising a holistic approach to sustainable development, outlines seventeen goals to “transform the world for persons with disabilities”, with one of their objectives being to establish an ongoing live web resource for each goal and each disability. The Sustainable Goals are provided below:

UN Sustainable Development Goals

How should organizations get started? The UN Sustainability Development goals are a good starting point to inform direction. There has to be a proper strategy in place to connect the moving parts. There should be ladders going up and down up and down from business goals to government national state goals.

Businesses could do more than what they  are currently doing, but there is a promising future ahead in terms of development.

It is important to take strategic actions to advance broader societal goals. Ideally this strategy should correspond to the agenda that the UN set with their Sustainable Development Goals agenda — and there should be an emphasis on collaboration and innovation in the undertaking of these actions.

The UN’s 17th SDG is “Partnerships to achieve the Goal”, and this is something all organizations should all be striving to incorporate into our own practices. Partnerships are essential, including with consumers. Ultimately, everyone should be involved, and, together, we can make a huge impact for good using business as a force for good and a force for change, moving in the direction of travel of other organizations.

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