Responsible Procurement – and is blue washing a threat to your company?

We are delighted to welcome our first Guest Post from Alis Sindbjerg Hemmingsen, a Global Strategic advisor in Responsible Procurement Management. She has worked in strategic and operational procurement for the last 15 years and now runs her own company called Responsible Procurement Excellence* - learn more about her on linked in: or at

 Is blue washing a threat to your company?

A lot of companies have realized that taking on responsibility for society is benefitting the bottom-line. Some companies have even signed up for “Global Compact” – the United Nations 10 principles on good business behaviour. Now companies are realizing that signing up for the Global Compact isn’t enough. One must do something actively to create a responsible supply chain and business.

Global Compact is an excellent framework in which the company can make their responsible work visible. Companies though have to ensure that it doesn’t become something of a “comfort blanket“,– it is then a risk that the company can get accused of "blue washing" (the Global Compact logo is blue). Hence it is important that the principles in the Global Compact are converted into real changes.

 Global Compact is often criticised because for some companies it is just a “positive marketing image without substance”. Critics also say, that allowing companies to submit their annual report without the content being verified or followed up, is making it difficult to take the framework seriously. In addition, there are no criteria for admission.

Can Global Compact be simplified?
Is Global Compact making it harder for themselves when it comes to communicating the message? Could they attract more businesses by requiring the companies to formulate their principles themselves – though based on the 4 main themes? Should Global Compact keep a team of process consultants available that could help the companies develop the principles? Is it even necessary at all - companies can take responsibility for society, with or without the Global Compact as a starting point.

Create real change
It is vital for the company's motivation to take on responsibility for society, both environmentally, socially and economically that this comes from a true desire. This will benefit the company in terms of competitiveness, attraction of labour, the bottom line in terms of savings and reducing risk. But it's often about more than that. The world’s resources are scarce, and more organisations are taking a wider view, that they must share some responsibility for that, including how they manage their supply chain.

Organisations need to take on board these issues - with or without the Global Compact. But those who use the Compact simply to boast about their principles, without embracing genuine change, run a real risk of being exposed publicly as indulging in “Blue Washing”.


* Editor's Note - pure coincidence and nothing to do with my consulting business Procurement Excellence Ltd!

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