When we talk about corporate social responsibility in procurement, we’re describing a state in which your ethical standpoint as a business is reflected in your supplier selection and supply chain management. To achieve this state of equilibrium you need to factor in environmental, social, and governmental factors when developing your supply chain. It’s no easy task. However, you can make progress toward achieving genuine social responsibility by taking the following steps.
1. Get all stakeholders engaged
CSR strategies are doomed to failure if all relevant stakeholders aren’t informed and on board. This means letting your employees, your customers, your business partners, and any other relevant stakeholders in on the plan and the part they’ll play in it.
Of course, before you start assigning roles and delegating tasks, it’s crucial to talk to everyone and get their input on your plans. Take note of their feedback and any concerns they raise. Then take action on it. This will demonstrate that you value their thoughts and opinions and that you plan to do this as a team, not as a dictator.
2. Map out all your sustainability sticking points
Identify all sustainability issues relevant to your business, and assess their impact. From here, you can prioritize the ones that need urgent attention and schedule others in as future CSR initiatives. From this list, you’ll then need to start developing a plan of attack that will help you eliminate your sustainability sticking points and improve the transparency of your supply chain.
3. Set specific, measurable goals for your CSR initiatives
If you want your team to be able to take action on your CSR initiatives, your goals must be specific and clearly definite. They must also be measurable to ensure you’re able to track progress, correct course where needed, and analyze the results.
So, once you have your stakeholders involved, engage in a few brainstorming sessions to identify areas for improvement. Your people and your customers will be a wealth of valuable information on where you could be doing better on the social responsibility front. However, you’ll also need to conduct thorough research to ensure you identify all elements of your business and supply chain that need to be addressed.
4. Get a sustainability management system off the ground
Here, it’s important to note that these steps aren’t exactly sequential. Instead, you need to come back to them repeatedly throughout the process. When launching your sustainability management system, for example, you’ll want to have your people collaborate on defining sustainability for your company. You’ll also need to delegate tasks like incorporating your CSR initiatives into your business planning and seeking new suppliers or other potentially helpful business relationships.
5. Analyze and report on your progress
The beauty of setting clear and measurable goals is that you should have ample data with which to analyze your results. Through this analysis, you can identify areas for ongoing improvement and determine the best course of action going forward. Crucially, you can also identify major wins and successes.
Reporting on all of these factors will help keep your team motivated and on track. It also gives you an opportunity to keep your customers in the loop while establishing credibility as a business that cares about the environment and the local community.
By integrating CSR into your procurement processes, you can not only reduce your environmental and social impact but also build trust with your customers, employees, and other stakeholders. In other words, such initiatives are well worth the effort.