New Zealand’s leading impact consultancy, The Ākina Foundation, has encouraged procurement professionals to think seriously about the social impact the profession can have in the broader community.
Chief Executive Nicola Nation was the opening keynote at PASA’s Sustainable Procurement and ESG today virtual conference.
Nicola explained why procurement can be far more than the sum of parts. When used as an instrument of policy procurement can achieve a lot from the supplier side.
“How are you challenging leaders in your social licence to operate?” was the leading question in Nicola’s presentation.
The foundation works with organisations to help them put positive social and environmental outcomes at the heart of how they do business.
“We’re wanting business to be delivered in a different way, and we’re wanting business to understand the social and environmental and cultural impacts of the work they’re doing,” Nicola said.
“That applies really deeply to the work of you as procurement professionals. There is an opportunity for you to think about the social, environmental, and cultural outcomes of the procurement processes that you are working within.”
Nicola said procurement was in a unique position to affect change due to its “unique line of sight right across the business.”
“It’s you who are able to see what is going on when other parts of your business might not necessarily understand what is happening at that level and might not be aware of various opportunities to work collaboratively and to work in a different way,” Nicola said.
28% of organisations yet to implement ESG targets
Nicola believes there were numerous warning signs that processes, “learned procedures and policies we’ve already had” needed to change.
“Social disparity across New Zealand and Australia is bigger than ever before,” Nicola said.
“The gap between the rich and the poorer is getting bigger, and this is only being amplified by covid. It’s important because our environment cannot wait for us to make change.”
Risks to recruiting talent
In mentioning risks with ESG, Nicola said a big risk was that if it is neglected organisations would struggle to recruit talent.
“There’s a risk that if you, if you don’t care about impact, if you don’t start to think about this and measure this in your work, then actually your organisation won’t be able to recruit talent,” Nicola said.
Consumers were becoming more “attuned to greenwashing”, Nicola said.
The key message from several presenters during Sustainable Procurement and ESG Today was to “just start” when it comes to ESG. That was tip one from Nicola’s presentation. Tip two was to look at corporate office expenditure as a place to begin.
“Look at the internal stuff, the inside bits that are not so customer face facing,” Nicola said. “It can be really easy to find some, some less risky, I guess, opportunities to start social procurement.”