EcoVadis Sustain 2020 saw sustainability and procurement leaders from around the world gather (virtually for the first time!) to exchange knowledge, share best practice and discuss the latest trends.
This year Vizibl’s Founder & CEO Mark Perera moderated the session “Driving Change in the Supply Chain Through Innovation” alongside Caroline Saccoletto (Sustainable Procurement Coordinator at Arkema) and Jonathan Sims (CPO UK & Ireland Engie).
For us, there were five big takeaways from the event.
1. Every cloud has a silver lining
With the arrival of Covid 19 to Europe at the beginning of March most events around the continent were cancelled. Sustain 2020 only had two options: The conference would either have to be called off or turned into a virtual one.
The organisers Pierre-François Thaler and Frédéric Trinel (Co-Founders and Co-CEOs of Ecovadis) decided to go against the odds and turn the event into a virtual one in less than a month. This would require to create a virtual environment where attendees and speakers could participate in the most efficient and natural way.
Deciding on a virtual conference instead, it was a big success. This change resulted in more than double the amount of registrations with more than 1600 unique attendees along the event. All speakers had the chance to present and answer questions as planned. The virtual experience was also fantastic for everyone who attended the conference.
2. Sustainability is a key priority in every company’s agenda
Sustainability has become a major priority for companies, featuring on a growing number of organisational scorecards and fundamentally changing how they do business.
1600 attendees from more than 57 countries coming together is a positive sign of the growing importance of sustainability, despite the circumstance.
Moreover, having attendees and speakers from major companies such as L’Oreal, L’Occitane, Henkel, GSK and Mars in such hard times leads the way for other organisations to do the same and shift their mindset.
3. C-Suite executives should be the ones driving sustainability forward
Gilbert Ghostine (CEO of Firmenich) talked about the importance of having full support from C-suite executives to develop successful sustainability practices. Gilbert was clear that CEOs should be the ones driving the sustainability agenda forward and directing the entire company in this direction.
Panelists in other talks emphasised the importance of C-suite backing to champion initiatives that directly impact their sustainability goals. This type of leadership from CEO can have a massive influence on company ESG ratings.
4. Innovation is key to conduct superior sustainability practices
Regine Lucas (CPO L’Oreal) talked about the importance of linking sustainability with digital transformation to accelerate delivery of the former.
L’Oreal embarked on a sustainability journey with key suppliers who could help the company achieve their objectives by communicating their overall vision and goals for sustainability. Supplier collaboration enabled L’Oreal to achieve better results, faster.
Regine also mentioned that they are working on a new commitment for the start of the new financial year where suppliers will be a key part.
5. Sustainability should be linked to finance
Sustainability is seen as a burden or source of financial loss for most companies, however Adebibe Salah (Group Senior Purchasing Director L’Occitane) does see sustainability as linked to losing money.
Adebibe talked about establishing strategic directives that would benefit both their sustainability goals and the company’s financial objectives. Whilst companies may sacrifice earnings at first to meet those goals, their long term strategies can maximize earnings while having a sustainable impact.