During Procurement Heads‘ sustainability event, it was great to hear that leading brands are embedding sustainable practices in how they conduct business and gain insight into how consumers are encouraging and driving their corporate behaviour.
Sustainability (and D&I) is increasingly linked to how consumers decide to engage with the businesses they purchase from. It is clear to me, that the businesses to stand the test of time are undoubtedly going to be those that look to the future – planning strategically to ensure that their brand, products and services will flourish in changing economic, social and environmental situations.
For those that embrace this way of operating, sustainability is likely to be a key focus, and in this respect, Procurement & Supply Chain has never had a more important part to play, not just around the long-term future of a business, but in relation to brand reputation – where sustainability is not just a partnering of economy and ecology, but an opportunity to demonstrate values and integrity.
During the discussion, I picked up on a few key themes, common to all represented organisations:
1) Sustainability isn’t just about the environment, it’s a much broader opportunity – something Thomas Udesen echoed in our previous conversation about the Sustainable Procurement Pledge, which you can read here: https://www.procurementheads.com/blog/sustainable-procurement-pledge/
2) The way organisations approach traceability, equality, diversity & inclusion, human rights and modern-day slavery are all critical to their sustainability agenda and important values that consumers are attaching more importance to.
3) It doesn’t matter where the force for sustainability comes from, but, it must be high up organisations’ agendas or they are not committed to it – if it is not in the top three agendas of the Board then it is not being taken seriously enough. In my previous conversation with Ralf Peters, he shared how the values and activity permeate from the Board down, which you can read here: https://www.procurementheads.com/blog/sustainable-procurement-ralf-peters/
Sustainability is far more than just carbon footprint and as such, there is a huge amount of opportunity if we all embrace the challenge and take ownership of our individual and collective responsibilities. But, changing people’s mindsets, values and ethics aren’t easy. We must realise the need to educate (and not chastise) those that aren’t part of the solution yet. Often, it is about making something personal, finding a “trigger” that makes the need to change relevant and that, in my opinion, is the responsibility of all of us.
Sustainability will become a competitive advantage. Some companies already recognise this and have corroborated the facts through Voice of the Customer surveys.
Internal activism is likely to increase in businesses where the newly hired talent has Social and Environmental values that don’t match those of its employer.
Hiring the top talent will become harder for those companies not driving the sustainability agenda – we are already seeing top talent express a strong preference for those companies leading these agendas – they are seen as innovative, progressive and employees feel like they are doing good, creating a better ecological and social environment now and for future generations.