CSR and Marketing Spend – a new Spend Matters Paper

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) continues to be a hot topic for the procurement profession and of course for many of our colleagues in other parts of the organisation.  Understanding the implications of what we do, and the money our organisation spends, in terms of its effect on the environment, social issues such as decent working conditions, or the economic effects of our actions, has become essential for the switched-on procurement professional.

What is surprising is how many different areas of third party spend actually raise interesting and challenging issues around CSR. We noted this a while back when we featured the case study of Pernod-Ricard and the approach they have taken towards procurement of marketing collateral – that is, branded goods and materials to support their brands.

We’ve expanded that topic now into a short research paper, titled "Demonstrating Corporate Social Responsibility in the Marketing Services World", produced in conjunction with ProProcure, who provide an eProcurement platform that addresses spend in this area.  In the paper, we start with a brief overview of CSR, and then get into some specific issues within the area of marketing materials – although this applies to many other goods too. .

“There are issues here abound traceability and fundamental understanding of what is being bought, from whom, and where it was made. The dangers here are obvious from our sustainability and social responsibility perspective.

  • The manufacturers of the goods we buy may not adhere to good employment practices.  They may use unsafe factory, with no fire precautions, or force staff into 12 hour days, or even use child labour.
  • Do we really understand the specification of what we are buying? If not, there may be quality implications (the T-shirt that shrinks 50% the first time the consumer washes it).
  • Materials used may not be in line with good sustainability practice – using timber from rainforests, for instance.
  • The ultimate supplier of the goods may simply be a firm we wouldn’t want to do business with because of ownership, business practices or other factors.

So the problems then arise when the well and expensively branded item becomes associated with this sort of problem. We’ve seen this happen often enough to know it isn’t pleasant for the firm involved – and brand value can be rapidly diminished”.

The paper the moves onto what procurement and marketing people can do about the risks, and we’ll cover that in our next piece on the paper here shortly.

There is we hope something of interest here for anyone interested in CSR as well as those involved in procurement of marketing goods and services – as well as the marketing profession as well of course. You can download the paper here, free on registration.

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