How do you measure the success of a responsible sourcing program?
One key metric is whether your efforts lead to concrete and long-term changes in your organization’s behavior. The purpose of responsible sourcing is to earn the trust of modern consumers, ensure business longevity and profitability, and ensure more ethical and sustainable supply chains. If a responsible sourcing program results in short-term “wins” but does not lead to enduring changes to business operations, these goals will remain out of reach. To achieve them, internal engagement is key.
Responsible sourcing programs cannot occur in a vacuum; they must be incorporated across an entire business to have a real and long-lasting impact. Proving the importance of such programs to departments beyond responsible sourcing or sustainability is key to making meaningful progress towards your organization’s responsible sourcing goals.
Close alignment with procurement teams, who make the final purchasing decisions, is especially important for a responsible sourcing and sustainability initiative to succeed. Procurement departments bridge the gap between the findings of a responsible sourcing program and the real buying decisions made by the business. Therefore, it is critical for the benefits to be clear to procurement professions in your organization.
What data can be collected to help procurement departments choose more sustainable suppliers and gain a clearer picture of existing suppliers? Examples include document-based information such as certifications, surveys, and self-assessments, as well as information about supplier relationships and sourcing volumes. Responsible sourcing programs can help procurement determine if relationships with high-performing suppliers can be extended, as well as make more well-informed decisions about which suppliers to work with.
Beyond procurement, responsible sourcing efforts should also provide value to other areas of the business. Incorporating the needs of departments beyond Sustainability and Procurement helps to secure internal buy-in, generate momentum, and develop a sense of company-wide ownership. This internal engagement will increase the likelihood of the program’s success and future expansion—which is essential for responsible sourcing at scale.
How can a responsible sourcing program benefit other areas of the business?
- Marketing: Collect supply chain information that can be shared with consumers; establish a brand reputation for authentic and genuine sustainability
- Risk and Compliance: Proactively identify areas of risk as well as opportunities for risk reduction and mitigation
- Human Resources: Leverage the success of sustainability efforts to attract high-caliber talent and motivate current employees
- Finance: Ensure long-term business profitability through responsibly sourced products and identify potential areas of cost reduction
- R&D: Identify suppliers with the capacity and ability to develop innovative new products for the business
Responsible sourcing programs that consider the needs of the entire business have the greatest impact on an organization and its ability to achieve ambitious sustainability goals. These considerations should not be left as an afterthought—they should be incorporated from the outset, during the development of an initiative. The key question is: what data and KPIs will provide the most value to internal teams? This pre-planning will provide the foundation for a responsible sourcing initiative built for success.
Internal engagement is essential to build a sense of ownership throughout the business, which in turn leads to a higher likelihood of impacting the business’s behavior. Only once global organizations back their commitments with tangible changes can they achieve more sustainable and responsible sourcing.