Author Archives: Sydney Lazarus



About Sydney Lazarus

Editor-at-Large - Spend Matters | Sydney is editor-at-large at Spend Matters, where she writes on a variety of supply chain and procurement-related topics. Her reporting interests include labor conditions, corporate social responsibility, and women and millennials in supply chain. Like most of her editorial colleagues, Sydney is an alum of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. Her work has also appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Condé Nast Traveler, and a couple places where she chose to be published anonymously.


Beyond Greenwashing: How to Make CSR Clauses Truly Effective (Part 2)

Editor’s note: This is Part 2 in a two-part series covering EcoVadis’s recent study of CSR contractual practices among buyers and suppliers. Part 1 covered the limited effectiveness of today’s CSR clauses

Among buyers, inserting a corporate social responsibility (CSR) clause into their contracts with suppliers is a pretty common occurrence. According to EcoVadis’s 2018 study on CSR contractual practices, about 70% of buyers do so. The same study found, however, that more than 50% of suppliers say that they have come across CSR requirements that could not be met. But perhaps the greater problem is the fact that most CSR clauses are vague and ineffectual, providing for little enforceability and verifiability.

Are CSR Clauses Truly Effective in Improving Supply Chain Sustainability? (Part 1)

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) clauses are a common feature in contracts between buyers and suppliers. Yet the vague language of the majority of these clauses suggests limited effectiveness in actually bringing about sustainable practices, according to a recent study of more than 550 buyers and suppliers conducted by EcoVadis. Today, the adoption of CSR practices is quickly becoming the norm. According to the International Association of Contract and Commercial Managers (IACCM), nearly three-quarters of companies include a sustainability clause in their procurement contracts. Moreover, half also monitor their suppliers’ environmental and social performance.

Thomas CEO Tony Uphoff on Sourcing Alternatives to Plastic Drinking Straws, Regulations and Consumer Sentiment

The year 2018 seems to be the beginning of the end of the plastic straw, and sourcing data from Thomasnet.com indicate that procurement professionals are scrambling to identify alternatives. One of the top marine polluters, plastic straws have been banned in various countries, cities and royal estates around the world, including Scotland, Taiwan, Vancouver and Buckingham Palace. Data from supplier discovery platform Thomasnet.com shows that sourcing activity for drinking straws and paper bags has increased significantly compared with the historical average. Spend Matters recently spoke with Tony Uphoff, president and chief executive at Thomas, to learn more about the industries behind this spike, the roles played by regulations and consumer sentiment, and those iconic red-and-yellow straws.

Deloitte’s 2018 Millennial Survey: Industry 4.0, Employer Loyalty and Business Ethics

millennial

Young professionals across the globe are unsure about their ability to adapt to Industry 4.0 technologies and increasingly critical of business ethics, Deloitte’s 2018 Millennial Survey finds. For its seventh annual report on the millennial generation in the workplace, Deloitte researchers surveyed 10,455 college-educated professionals from 36 countries who were born between 1983 and 1994. The researchers also surveyed 1,844 respondents born between 1995 and 1999, who fall into Generation Z.

Are Reverse Auctions a Threat to Good Supplier Relationships?

auction

Can reverse auctions — and e-procurement in general — sour a good supplier relationship? One of our readers wrote in with this question, worrying that reverse auctions may put pressure on supplier margins to such an extent that it is detrimental to the buyer-supplier relationship. In a reverse auction, suppliers compete for the buyer’s business by underbidding one another. This increased competition among the supply base ought to lead to lower prices for buyers, although it also runs the risk of undermining a supplier relationship that has taken time and effort to build. What’s the point of developing a strategic supplier relationship if you’re going to use an automated auctioning process anyway?

Is the Contingent Workforce Growing? Interpreting the Latest Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics

services procurement

Last month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the 2017 Contingent Workforce Supplement, its first since 2005. The report estimates that in May 2017, 3.8% of the U.S. workforce, or 5.9 million workers, held contingent jobs. In the supplement, the BLS defines contingent workers as those who “do not have an implicit or explicit contract for ongoing employment.” Self-employed and independent contractors are included in this figure as long as they have been employed for under a year and expect their employment to last no more than one additional year.

The Highlight Reel: 6 Can’t-Miss Matchups from the Procurement Tech Evaluation Ring

In January, the Spend Matters analysts launched the “Head-to-Head” series, pitting providers against one another in the Spend Matters evaluation ring. Using the latest SolutionMap data, the analysts evaluate providers against specific business requirements and scenarios to see which one emerges as the winner in each round. As our midsummer round-ups come to an end, today we take a look back at some of the recent action from the evaluation ring.

You Ask, We Answer: Procurement’s Burning Questions From the First Half of 2018

We kicked off Ask Spend Matters last July, and throughout the course of this past year, our readers — you! — have sent us dozens upon dozens of fascinating questions on topics ranging from big data to tail spend to group purchasing organizations to services procurement. Answering your questions has been both illuminating and fun, and we only hope that you have learned as much as we have. Today, we look back at the Ask Spend Matters articles that we published in the first half of this year. You asked about professional development needs, spend management vs. e-procurement, high-volume, low-dollar spend and more — and we answered.

Afternoon Coffee: Supplier Payment Delays Grow, MRA Global Sourcing Merges with TYGES

Suppliers to the 1,000 largest U.S. public companies are now waiting an average of 56.7 days to get paid, the Wall Street Journal reports. Companies are delaying supplier payments in order to have more cash on hand to invest into their operations, and the waiting period for suppliers is longer than ever compared to the past decade. In lighter news, a carbon dioxide shortage in Britain is affecting beer, meat and crumpets. Afternoon Coffee brings you the latest news in supply chain and procurement.

Implementing Order Processing Automation: A Case Study of Lam Research and Esker

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When Lam Research, a U.S. maker of semiconductor equipment, began implementing Esker’s order processing automation technology, in early 2016, the decision had already been a while in the making. Founded in 1980 and headquartered in Fremont, California, Lam Research counts Samsung, Intel and IBM among its customers. The past decade has been one of impressive growth for the company, whose revenue expanded from $2.1 billion in 2010 to around $9.6 billion in 2017. But as the company grew, so too had its workforce.

‘Pull In’ Initiatives More Effective Than ‘Lean In’ for Retaining and Advancing Women in Supply Chain

women

While women only make up about 20% of supply chain vice presidents today, that share is expected to rise to roughly one in three by 2023, according to a new report from Gartner and AWESOME, a leadership organization focused on the advancement of women in supply chain. Now in its third year, the 2018 Women in Supply Chain Survey focused on supply chain organizations’ initiatives on the retention and advancement of women. It found that while the percentage of women holding executive-level supply chain positions has risen in recent years, the average percentage of women leaders at other levels has remained flat.

Auburn University’s Beth Davis-Sramek on How the Logistics Sector is Changing and Why the UPS Strike Was Unlikely

Late Thursday, the Teamsters Union and UPS reached agreement on a new five-year contract, averting what would have been the largest strike in the U.S. in decades. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the union representing UPS workers, had authorized a strike if the two sides do not come to an agreement before the current contract expires July 31. Before the two sides came to an agreement, Spend Matters talked to Beth Davis Sramek, associate professor of supply chain management at Auburn University, who made the prescient prediction that the strike would not go through. Read on for her thoughts on what the supply chain consequences would have been, potential contingency plans and what changes are in store for the logistics sector.