Strengthen your sustainability policy by surrounding yourself with the right partners. Creating a sustainable procurement process starts before the call for tender is sent, this allows you to include Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) criteria in your specifications. Doing this will enable you to quickly identify companies that share your values. Before signing the contract, find out about their sustainable activities and communicate with them. To help you in this process, we have selected the main criteria that will enable you to identify committed suppliers.
1 – Environmental management of their business
No company can have a significant impact on the environment on its own. But together we can do something for the planet. Everyone is an actor in their own way: the consumer when choosing sustainable products, as well as companies when they support eco-friendly partnerships.
The circular economy is a key part of sustainable procurement. It requires more effective cooperation between principals and suppliers. It is a win-win strategy as it is based on shared environmental values. By choosing a supplier who is aligned with your values, you will move towards more sustainable practices altogether.
A sustainable supplier makes decisions by weighing their impact on the environment. Their offer includes at least some of the following elements:
- Environmentally certified products (Ecolabel, Ecosert, etc.);
- Selling of second-hand products;
- Recycling of their returned products;
- Responsible waste management;
- Improving their energy efficiency;
- Reducing their greenhouse gas emissions.
These actions that support sustainable development can be part of a CSR charter that ensures that each supplier has a sustainable procurement policy.
2 – Ethical business practices
Ethics is more than just a company’s moral obligations. It encompasses every aspect of how a company acts, both internally and externally. This concept is inseparable from Corporate Social Responsibility, and it is at the very core of the implementation of a responsible strategy. It goes hand in hand with the creation of rules that promote ethical business practices. A focus on people and respect are central to these company policies. When you select a supplier that has strong ethical values, you ensure that your partnership has a solid foundation.
How can you ensure that a company respects fundamental ethics? Loyalty is a key value in business relationships. In fact, the ISO 26000 standard on social responsibility takes it into account. Here are the questions you should ask:
- Is your supplier’s communication transparent?
- Have they ever been accused of corruption?
- Do they comply with fair competition rules?
Signing the UN Global Compact is an expression of your suppliers’ commitment to fighting corruption, as well as their activities in favour of social responsibility and promoting human rights.
3 – Diversity and inclusion in HR management
To stay aligned with your social values, choose suppliers who share them. Inclusion and diversity are fundamental criteria for a CSR policy. Here are four things to check before you enter into a business relationship.
Gender equality in the workplace is one of the European Commission’s priorities. Member States encourage managers to ensure gender parity. Targets to be achieved by 2025 have been set and binding measures have been put in place to achieve them, including wage transparency.
Integrating people with disabilities
To verify your suppliers’ commitments, pay close attention to the degree of inclusion of people with disabilities within their organisation. Have they published a report on the proportion of disabled workers on their payroll? Transparency gives more weight to their actions in this regard.
Diversity is also one of the key parts of a CSR policy. This includes hiring without discrimination (based on gender, origin, religion, sexual orientation, etc.). This collective intelligence, combined with that of your teams, reinforces your social and societal responsibility.
Training and access to employment for young people
The inclusion of young people is a key performance lever for a CSR strategy. But do your suppliers follow suit? Do they hire work-study students and recent graduates? Choosing a company that is committed to including young professionals ensures that you will be working with a dynamic team that will be able to adapt to the market of the future.
4 – Respect and promotion of human rights
Respect for human rights goes beyond just complying with legal obligations. Implementing actions that support employees’ well-being and protection is a sign of real commitment to these values. This is a fundamental part of a CSR strategy, as every company can have a significant social and societal impact. The first major benefit of this type of strategy is increased productivity. Happy teams are much more committed to their jobs. Every year, the website Great Place to Work ranks the best companies to work for. Choosing suppliers who focus on people ensure that your partnership will be pleasant.
Respect for human rights can be identified at different stages of the production or supply chain. Talking to your potential suppliers will allow you to identify the main risks to these rights. For example, who are their subcontractors, and where are they located? A targeted study can be used to identify practices that violate safety regulations or the use of child labour. Transparent communication will help you to assess the quality of the CSR policy of each service provider.
5 – Certification of their CSR policy
The EcoVadis certification evaluates companies’ CSR performance. This standard is recognised around the world. The assessment is reliable because it uses a continuous monitoring process. EcoVadis offers support to each company to help it reach its CSR objectives. Including this certification in your selection criteria for call for tender will allow you to identify committed and trustworthy service providers.
The ISO 26000 and ISO 20400 standards are essential for the growth of sustainable procurement. ISO 26000 is an international standard that defines the broad aims of a CSR strategy. It includes the first four criteria mentioned in this article. An outgrowth of the ISO 26000 standard, the ISO 20400 standard focuses on the implementation of a sustainable procurement strategy. It encourages companies to involve all their suppliers, beyond just those in tier 1. Compliance with these standards is crucial in choosing future service providers.
Using the most concrete and objective elements possible in your calls to tender is a way to ensure you are making an informed decision. You can then include these CSR criteria in your contracts. This is the basis for a win-win partnership between client and supplier. Through a shared focus on sustainable development, ethical values, and respect for human rights, together you will have a significant impact on the implementation of more sustainable business practices.