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97% of supply chain professionals value sustainable procurement but lack resources to delve deep enough
The C-suite increasingly sees sustainable procurement as integral to business, but companies aren’t devoting enough resources to delve deep into their supply chains, according to the results of the new EcoVadis/HEC Sustainable Procurement Barometer.
The research, by the leading platform for environmental, social and ethical performance ratings, was compiled through a survey of 120 supply chain professionals globally. It found that 97% of organisations place a high level of importance on sustainable procurement, continuing the upward trajectory seen in the last 10 years.
Pierre-François Thaler, co-CEO of EcoVadis, said: “Sustainable procurement is no longer a nice-to-have – it’s an integral business function responsible for protecting and improving brand reputation, driving revenue and mitigating business risk.”
Almost half of organisations say their sustainable procurement programme covers 75% or more of their spend volume today, a significant jump from the 27% reported in 2013. Yet only 15% of respondents say they have complete supply chain visibility into the sustainability performance of tier one and two suppliers, and only 6% for tier three. This represents the largest challenge for sustainable procurement teams as supply chain transparency becomes increasingly urgent.
In 2017, the two largest obstacles for sustainable procurement programmes were a lack of internal resources and difficulty tracking supplier sustainability performance. The number one cited challenge from 2013 – lack of executive and board support – now doesn’t even crack the top three. “The C-suite appears to be finally on board with sustainable procurement initiatives,” said Thaler. “However, when you dive deeper into the data, an interesting picture starts to appear. While executives are finally on board, procurement teams still report that a lack of internal resources holds them back.”
EcoVadis, which has just signed its first outside venture funding for $30m from institutional investor Partech Ventures to radically expand its business, spoke in Davos last month about the need for investment in the latest technologies to help performance on a global scale.
Investing in AI technology will allow EcoVadis to automate the analysis of "millions of pages of documents" collected annually, according to Thaler. With the number of companies submitting reports expected to double over the next 12 months, tackling this currently manual process should have a huge impact on the issue of internal resources. "It will improve the validity of the information and improve the coverage," Thaler said.