Action Sustainability has been supporting SSE plc for several years with various aspects of delivering their sustainability strategy. This includes sustainable supply chains, procurement, climate training and education, improving social value outcomes and measuring their impacts. The following case study summarises this support.

Climate Training & Education

Putting polices, strategies and policies in place is one thing, but colleagues, suppliers and stakeholders need to know what they mean and how to act on them. As well as the wider training that Action Sustainability provides through the Supply Chain Sustainability School, we have also supported SSE by developing and delivering bespoke training on climate and carbon to a variety of audiences. This began in September 2021 with a series of five Climate Academy sessions, providing learning on climate change, net zero, adaptation, nature, and people. Between 1,500 and 2,500 SSE colleagues joined each session with good audience participation.

Following this we delivered a similar set of six sessions in early 2022 to the SSE Network Distribution business’s supply chain – an external audience keen to understand their client’s ambition for climate change – again reaching hundreds of people in the process. More recently we have upskilled colleagues in the Energy Customer Services (ECS) part of the business to help them when they have climate conversations with SSE’s commercial and domestic customers. We ran seven training sessions for ECS between September 2022 and May 2023, focusing on sustainability and climate change and carbon.

Sustainable Procurement

SSE first engaged Action Sustainability in 2020 to undertake an assessment of how sustainability is embedded in the business’s procurement function. Using ISO 20400 as the platform for our evaluation – the international standard for best practice in sustainable procurement – we engaged their procurement teams and other stakeholders to see where good practices were and where there were areas for improvement. Gathering information from documents and several interviews we were able to give our findings on the current situation within SSE and, more importantly, provide our recommendations on how to move further towards best practice with respect to mitigation supply chain sustainability impacts. This report of findings and recommendations was underpinned with an action plan on what to do, where to act and how soon.

Social Value

Aligned to the sustainable procurement work above, during 2022 SSE conducted extensive research on how social value is implemented, delivered, measured and quantified by both public bodies and private companies by utilising a selection of measures, which are aligned with SSE’s 2030 goals and UN SDGs. This initial approach seeks involvement with selected supply chain partners to support an early ‘Proof of Value’ concept, and then support the wider ambition of retrofitting the social value approach into existing contracts thereafter.

SSE is committed to taking a journey in the direction of social value and embedding social value within its procurement processes, and this is borne out in the evidence collected and evaluation that we undertook. Our report summarises best practice from reviewing documents and speaking with tender owners and suppliers, along with an action plan and recommendations on how to upskill and embed social value deeper within the procurement function.

Advanced Supply Chain Sustainability Reporting

Since 2020, we’ve been collaborating with multiple divisions of SSE to roll out one of the UK’s most comprehensive supply chain sustainability reporting programmes. Leveraging our award-winning Sustainability Tool, we have created a bespoke reporting framework that aligns seamlessly with SSE’s overarching strategy. This enables real-time data aggregation and performance metrics across their supply chain, operational locations, and construction sites. The framework we’ve implemented is multi-dimensional, covering aspects from embodied carbon to environmental stewardship and social sustainability.

Notably, the reporting capabilities of our platform help SSE meet the stringent reporting criteria set by OFGEM and contribute to the compilation of their corporate annual reports. Crucially, our services and SaaS solution empower SSE to actively manage their sustainability performance, enabling them to act upon their strategy and deliverables through data-driven decisions.