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We were delighted to come across this article in GeenBiz ‘3 tips to win over the corporate procurement team,’ as it actually lays out why the ‘business’ should liaise more with, and get more out of, procurement for a change, rather than the other way around.

BSR is a global non-profit organisation that works with its network of more than 250 member companies and other partners to promote a more sustainable world. The article highlights the results of the BSR’s 9th Annual Survey of Sustainable Business Leaders – The State of Sustainable Business 2017, and notes that “more than half of corporate sustainability professionals view their company’s supply chain/procurement function as the one that their team needs to work with most closely to make “substantive progress” on sustainability in their companies.” And that “the procurement function was the most commonly cited functional partner to sustainability — outranking the CEO’s office, operations, product development, risk management or any other part of the company.”

Now, we think the findings in this report are interesting for both private and public sector practitioners. While it directs its discussion at US business and how it is responding to the changing social landscape, its recommendations are relevant to everyone. In fact its sample of respondents comes from all regions: US 52%, Europe 29% and rest of world the remainder. It is also useful intelligence for governments carving out their sustainability policies. And it’s interesting to see that among global trends and events affecting sustainable business uptake, it cites the UK Modern Slavery Act and French Devoir de Vigilance as contributing hard laws, and the OECD due diligence guidance; SDGs; COP 21 soft law.

The report also highlights why sustainability practitioners should build relationships with their procurement teams, since the procurement function has always been integral to advancing sustainability. But what the article points out is that “despite this mandate to partner, and the existence of governance models that bridge sustainability and procurement, sustainability practitioners with whom we work often lament the challenges of influencing procurement. Meanwhile, their counterparts in procurement often see sustainability as insufficiently versed in what procurement does, leading many companies to feel that their overall progress on supply-chain sustainability falls short of their ambition.”

So the article, written by Meghan Ryan, Manager at Business for Social Responsibility, goes on to give three ways in which collaboration between sustainability teams and procurement can be improved, these comprise: understanding procurement’s priorities; designing for standardisation and integration; translating trends into supply chain insights. And you can read their explanations in full in the article here.

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