CSR Initiatives in Supply Chain and Procurement: Understanding Relative Prioritization

Last week at the Dutch Sourcing Awards, I had the chance to chat briefly with a fellow speaker, Wim Peeters of EcoVadis. I remember being intrigued by their idea of promoting sustainable supply management after meeting the founder of EcoVadis, Pierre-François Thaler, back in 2009 after he started the now fast-growing venture.

But back to the Dutch Sourcing Awards. Wim presented a whirlwind of facts and figures from research EcoVadis conducted in collaboration with A.T. Kearney on the state and trending of CSR initiatives and programs. I’ll share some of the results in a series of posts, starting first with tracing the evolution overtime of the prioritization and importance of corporate social responsibility initiatives inside companies.

In terms of the overall importance of implementing CSR supply chain and procurement practices over time, what jumps out most is how the numbers have changed over the years. In 2003, when presented with a list of numerous procurement priorities, procurement executives ranked the initiative seventh overall (behind cost reduction, compliance, and other areas). But this priority jumped to the fifth spot in 2005 and third in 2007. And it stayed there through 2009 before dropping back to fourth in recent studies. Nevertheless, today CSR is on the list of 93 percent of respondents as a top priority, compared with only 40 percent in 2003.

In terms of tools to implement sustainable procurement initiatives, the most commonly seen today among survey participants (over 200 in total) are supplier codes of conduct. They are now used in 76 percent of companies (compared with 67 percent in 2009).

More coverage of EcoVadis research is to come.

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