Readers may remember a Spend Matters paper for SAP Ariba last year titled “Making a Positive Impact on Organisations, Human Rights and Communities – Procurement with Purpose”. (You can still download it here).
That theme of how procurement actions can contribute to wider value beyond the organisation, bringing environmental, social or economic benefit to citizens, is becoming a major priority for procurement teams and leaders. It is being driven by the demands of organisations’ own customers, by the wider community and in some cases by legislation and government action.
Whether we’re talking about the fight against modern slavery, reducing plastics in the ocean, addressing climate change or supporting disadvantaged groups in society, actions around how organisations spend their money with suppliers can have a major and positive impact. There is no doubt this is going to be high on the priority list for businesses for years to come.
Since the SAP Ariba paper was published, the firm held a successful half-day “Sustainability Summit” during their conference in Barcelona earlier this year. The commitment to this agenda and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals seems to come right from the top of SAP, and the latest sign of this is the SAP Sustainable Procurement Awards, launched this month, and open to public, private and third sector organisations across most of Europe (see the full list of countries here).
The Awards will recognise organisations (not just SAP clients) that are doing great work across this agenda. There are six awards, covering:
- diversity in the supply chain
- social and community value
- climate change-related actions
- environmental management (non-climate change)
- human rights
- technology (how tech can support all or any of these action areas)
Peter Smith, our ex-Managing Editor here at Spend Matters Europe, is going to chair the judging panel, and has been involved in developing this initiative with SAP Ariba. You can find all the details here, including how to enter. But we wanted to ask him - do we really need another procurement awards initiative ? This was his reply.
“We do have well established, excellent procurement awards – for example, from CIPS, from Procurement Leaders, and BiP Solutions in the public sector. But we believe there will be a difference for these awards. Most importantly, they are purely focused on sustainability issues, which are growing in priority and importance year on year. Having a dedicated event will we hope place even more attention on what can and should be done here.
Secondly, we aim to make these Awards different. Given the whole topic area, we don’t think it would be appropriate to hold the presentation event as an extravagant, perhaps not very “sustainable” black tie dinner. Sorry, no ballgowns for the girls (or the boys of course!). We want to really focus on the aspects of knowledge transfer, collaboration and sharing of great ideas and experiences, which seems appropriate as this is all about wider benefit and value. So while there will be an event in April 2020, at which the winners will be announced, it will be more of a working session – although I suspect there may be a few celebratory drinks at the end of it. We will also look to use other routes to share the Awards content as widely and openly as possible.
Finally, we want to make it as inclusive as possible – so a pretty simple application process, no entrance fee, and we want to make smaller organisations, public or private sector, feel that they should enter as well as the Unilevers and Vodafones of the world. We also want to make the Awards less “all or nothing” - so we’re looking at how we can have some category winners, but also recognise in some way everyone who enters and shows they are doing good work. So please do take a look at the Awards website and consider entering if you have a good story to tell.”
Peter also tells us that he is working with Mark Perera (founder of Procurement Leaders and software firm Vizibl) to look at how they can further develop and support this “procurement with purpose” movement, which they believe is of vital importance to all procurement professionals (and of course to all of us as citizens). Peter and Mark hosted a successful kick-off round-table last week, so if you are interested, do contact either of them on LinkedIn if you want to get involved and be kept informed about further developments or events.