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What does sustainability really mean to you? Brightman business change consultancy

07/19/2021 By

This summer, Spend Matters is focusing on ESG, and particularly sustainability in the procurement context, as a discussion topic with the industry, with vendors, buyers and suppliers. This will take the shape of in-depth analyst-written PRO articles, podcasts with procurement professionals, panel discussions and more — all accessible from the Spend Matters site. Why? Because we think it’s time to take a look at the bigger picture, from different angles.

To discover what sustainability means; what ROI can be expected from a sustainability focus; what the tech landscape looks like and why we need ESG-enabled technology; the implications for digital procurement and how procurement can influence the ESG agenda, read our first PRO brief in the series here.

As our technology analyst Bertrand Maltaverne puts it in that article and in the wake of the failings exposed by the Covid turbulence:

“Many organizations are also victims of a self-inflicted injury that jeopardized their capacity to operate during the crisis …  However, it seems like Covid will be the wakeup call that the supply chain world was waiting for. As a reaction to the events of the last months, the realization that organizations need better supply assurance (and that the Procurement function is critical in achieving this) spreads among organizations and management boards. This shift in priorities and mindset is an opportunity to go beyond ensuring business continuity. It is in fact a chance for building more antifragile, and more sustainable supply chains.”

To accompanying our broader look at ESG in practice, this short series captures personal views on sustainability — we’ve posed three questions to a cross section of procurement and supply chain practitioners from the worlds of consultancy, specialist organizations and forums, FMCG, retail, oil & gas, tech and so on, to get a top-level understanding of what being sustainable really means to them (not their company’s mission statement).

We hope this will reap a set of interesting and useful answers for procurement software vendors to take note of, and for other practitioners to consider.

Today we hear from Gail Evans, a director at Brightman, a consultancy that works alongside organizations, technology providers and the people affected by change, ensuring they understand the need for change, and are ready and equipped to adapt to it. We asked:

In an ideal world:

How would you ensure in your organization that ‘sustainability and responsibility’ is not just a tick-box exercise?

“In my experience, sustainable working practices are fairly well embedded in most small businesses today, particularly those established within the last decade or so. Brightman for example, has always operated virtually without a physical office, so this is very much part of our culture. Travel has always been at a minimum, and our staff are used to working with the tools commonly associated with sustainable working (e.g. Teams meetings, Slack, SharePoint etc.). Larger companies can look to their smaller counterparts for inspiration here.”

What would help you ’embed’ sustainability and responsible practices/thinking into procurement?

“In the public sector where we predominantly operate, many bids already carry a CSR weighting, so sustainability is well embedded into procurement. Our concern is less about whether sustainability needs to be embedded into procurement, but about how it is implemented and its knock-on impact on smaller suppliers. The current tick-box approach with very specific CSR criteria often discriminates against smaller companies because they simply don’t have the resources to invest in many of the very specific options, despite their businesses operating in a very efficient and sustainable way already. This is adding even more constraints on SMEs and their ability to demonstrate sustainability in both environmental and social value spheres.”

If you could have one wish from procurement tech/software vendors (to help with your sustainability goals/supply chain visibility/operations/measurement) what would that be?

“Building hardware that lasts longer will make a big difference. Just getting one extra year’s use out of a PC, server or networking kit would significantly reduce e-waste. Thankfully, many hardware vendors are already addressing this and making kit that lasts much longer, in both physical terms but also in software updates and support.”

Many thanks to Gail at Brightman — our analysts will take an aggregated look at all our responses in the coming weeks and give their take on the common themes that have emerged.  Look out for the other voices in the following weeks as we hear from the people who are ‘doing’ sustainability.

If you are involved in sustainability in procurement for your organization, feel free to comment below or submit your own answers to

If you are doing a tech selection, you can get a shortlist fast with our new TechMatch tool.

Read our Index of what’s to come in the rest of this series on ESG themes

ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance)