Buying sustainable products is a practice increasingly used by companies in the public market, but one that is also becoming effective in the private sector. Whatever the field, a company wishing to purchase responsibly must apply a CSR approach and comply with it on a number of points.
In this article, you can find out about the various actions that can be taken to promote responsible purchasing within companies, with the aim of reducing their environmental impact and improving their purchasing process.
Identifying CSR issues
Any company interested in sustainable development and its impact on the environment knows what Corporate Social Responsibility is. There are three types of challenge:
- Social: it is important to respect objectives relating to the quality of life at work, the well-being of employees and to ensure good working conditions within the company. Respect for human rights and the issue of diversity are at the heart of our policy. Every company has a duty to promote the living conditions and well-being of its employees.
- Economic: adopting a CSR approach makes it easier to anticipate risks and optimise costs. Taking an in-depth look at the purchasing process and purchasing itself is one way of reducing costs. Issues such as transport, packaging and product sustainability are being reworked to make the company ever more efficient. Organisations that have a responsible purchasing policy tend to stand out from the rest, as they become more efficient as a result of improved profitability.
- Environmental: this type of issue makes companies aware of their impact on the environment and society. There is also an interest in the carbon footprint left behind. Solutions are therefore found to improve the various processes. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is one of the objectives of this CSR approach.
Once the company has taken account of the three main issues, it is important to identify the stakeholders, buyer networks, suppliers and public authorities, etc.
Using purchasing management software
SaaS purchasing management software can provide a framework for a purchasing strategy while facilitating supplier relations. Indeed, to establish a responsible purchasing strategy, it is important to take an interest in suppliers’ values. With complete visibility of purchase requests, contracts, suppliers and invoices, it is possible to identify weak points and improve the system. Having a degree of transparency with suppliers helps to avoid failures and strengthens the brand image.
A management tool makes certain tasks easier for employees. With the possibility of putting suppliers in competition, the choice is made with full knowledge of the facts. Targeting the right suppliers, who correspond to the company’s principles, is no longer a waste of time. On the contrary, staff can focus on other value-added tasks. Product sheets are easily accessible, making it possible to sort by environmental and socio-economic criteria. As a result, it will be easier to implement a responsible purchasing strategy, which you can do in 4 steps.
Getting to grips with purchasing management software is simple and doesn’t require any major upheaval. All the staff involved can intervene at each stage of the purchasing process to monitor its progress and anticipate any malfunctions.
Improving relations with suppliers
Opting for a CSR approach means maintaining a healthy and lasting relationship with suppliers. To avoid the risk of default, you need to establish a dialogue with your external partners. Using purchasing management software can make this task easier. You can monitor their activity in real time and anticipate any problems.
Taking an interest in suppliers who support responsible purchasing enables you to maintain strategic supplier relationships in both economic and ecological terms. Both stakeholders will benefit. To create value and optimise profitability, it is important to build trust and communicate. What’s more, responsible purchasing generates lower costs, making it possible to reach new agreements.
Good relations with suppliers will foster long-term relationships where risks are potentially reduced. No more surprises with stock-outs and endless disputes… Thanks to shared values, contracts can be signed to move forward further and faster.
Adopting good practice
Purchasing departments are gradually incorporating sustainable development into their practices. According to the Ecovadis “Responsible Purchasing” barometer, 63% of purchasing managers said that achieving sustainable development objectives was very important in 2021, compared with just 25% two years earlier.
To encourage responsible purchasing within companies, it is necessary to establish a policy that addresses this specific issue and to make a real commitment to this approach. As the implementation of a responsible purchasing strategy changes traditional practices in the purchasing process, this new way of acting must be taken into account in commercial relations. As a first step, the company must draw up a list of the criteria it meets as part of its CSR approach. The choice of products must also meet criteria that are more closely geared towards sustainable development. Buying responsibly means selecting products that are considered to be of high quality and ethical.
When looking for future suppliers, don’t forget to study the financial proposal to see if it is in line with the company’s vision. It’s important to ask about the working conditions of employees, compliance with legislation and the type of materials used, to check that the supplier is not showing any signs of failure. In fact, there is nothing to stop a company declaring that it follows all the CSR criteria, when in fact the manufacture of its products runs counter to their values. The presence of labels can help in the assessment of suppliers. However, companies that are adept at greenwashing may give the impression that they support the initiative when nothing is being done on their side.
Purchasing departments and suppliers have become aware of the need for sustainable development, but they are not the only ones concerned. All employees who are directly or indirectly involved in the process must participate in the transition initiated by the company. The buyers concerned can therefore receive CSR training. The aim is for them to be able to take part in this transformation and ensure that it lasts. They will understand the challenges of sustainable purchasing, participate in the implementation of the new strategy and adapt to these new purchasing criteria. Employees will thus be aware of the requirements of Corporate Social Responsibility and will be able to comply with them.
To mobilise teams, it is important to update the general terms and conditions and to deploy the tools needed to apply this policy properly. For example, adapting the dashboards on a purchasing management software package is necessary for successful day-to-day application.
Any company wishing to embark on a CSR initiative can do so. However, it is true that this transformation does not happen overnight. What’s more, the purchasing approach is not just about so-called responsible products. A whole purchasing policy needs to be established to meet sustainable criteria. The aim of this article is to get you thinking about the existence of a CSR approach that would reduce your company’s environmental and social impact over the coming years.
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Weproc is a SaaS software specialized in digitizing the procurement process of companies. From purchase requests to supplier invoicing, through the validation process, Weproc is designed to simplify the purchase management of SMEs and mid-sized companies by centralizing all purchase-related activities.