“Procurement with Purpose” Roundtable — 4 Takeaways
December 11, 2019
Alex Basso
2 minutes

On the 21st of November, the Procurement with Purpose movement held its first formal event – a Roundtable – in London. 15 leaders and influencers were invited to discuss procurement’s potential to become a function that drives sustainability in the future.

The “Procurement with Purpose” movement has been started by Mark Perera (CEO and Co-Founder at Vizibl) and Peter Smith (Author and Managing Director at Procurement Excellence) with the aim to bring together the procurement community, enabling knowledge and opinions to be safely shared in the pursuit of a more sustainable future. 

The Setting: The Conduit Club

The session was held at The Conduit Club in Mayfair, London.

The Conduit serves as a home for a diverse community of people passionate about social change. Members share the belief that the world’s most significant problems can be viewed as opportunities for entrepreneurial solutions, and that knowledge, skills, technology and capital can lead to transformative impact. 

As the aim of the movement is to address, manage and improve the social, environmental and economic issues that face the modern world, The Conduit Club seemed like a venue fit for purpose. 

Takeaway 1: Sustainable programs and initiatives need C-Suite support to be fully implemented – but specific programmes can often be best developed “bottom up”

A concept all participants agreed on was that any type of new program or initiative in a corporate requires leadership support in order to be effectively implemented. Without C-suite support, even the most revolutionary initiatives may prove unsuccessful as business priorities change.

Leaders are those who are able to inspire and motivate others towards a common and ambitious goal. These are the ones who will make a change in the company and eventually impact the world in a positive way.

As Simon Sinek suggests, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

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Takeaway 2: Procurement teams need to find a connection between “doing business” and having a sustainable impact

Historically, the overarching objective of a company has been to add value to shareholders through profit. However, companies are increasingly looking beyond this goal, implementing strategies centred on their wider “Purpose”.

These strategies push companies to do business that positively impacts society, the economy and the environment. With approximately two thirds of company spend flowing through the procurement function, they are well placed to ensure business activities are benefitting sustainability targets.

Takeaway 3: Clear targets and goals are powerful, even if you don’t know how they are going to be achieved

The most successful program shared at the event had clear goals and targets established before kick off. Despite being ambitious, and in some cases impossible to achieve, these targets gave powerful guidance to different teams and helped the initiative to exceed expectations.

Often these new company goals are created and shared by the leadership team or even the CEO, like in the case explained above. By setting ambitious targets for the entire company, they inspire functions to work together towards common goals, leading to a positive impact. 

Sometimes companies hesitate when setting goals because they worry about how they will achieve them. As the popular quote says, “The right time is right now”. Instead of trying to figure out how they will achieve them, functions should set ambitious targets that motivate them, break these down into steps and start working on a solution.

Takeaway 4: Collaboration, sharing of knowledge and partnerships with suppliers are vital to tackle specific problems

Large enterprises are not the only entities responsible for addressing the sustainability issues the “Procurement with Purpose” movement aims to solve. Their size and complexity makes innovation tricky, and ensuring sustainable practices throughout supply chains is tough. However, collaborating, partnering and sharing knowledge with the comparatively more agile and innovative members of their supplier ecosystem is key to sustainable success.

Collaboration encourages strategic alignment between an enterprise and it’s suppliers, enabling focus on areas where the greatest impact can be made. This encourages the efficient innovation of products and processes that support sustainable business operations. It also allows for the development of initiatives that create more sustainable supply chains, helping enterprises operate with wider purpose.

The procurement function is aptly positioned to facilitate collaboration and significantly improve CSR.

The “Procurement with Purpose” movement has just started! Follow us on Vizibl and stay informed about future events.

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