Sustainability Strategies: A dusty document or an early signal to your supply chain? By Mellita D'Silva

We’ve all seen them. We may even have been part of the team that drafted them. Those fancy, sometimes colourful, jargon-filled documents that we hardly ever review again.

A good sustainability, sustainable procurement policy, strategy, or charter, forms the ‘golden thread’ between corporate policy and procurement strategy. Why is this necessary? 80% of an organisation’s spend is within the supply chain.

For an organisation to achieve its sustainability goals and ambitions, therefore, it will need to flow it down into the function that has the most influence and leverage with the supply chain – Procurement!

But before we go into the details of that golden thread and policy/strategy implementation, let’s look at what should constitute a robust sustainability or sustainable procurement policy:

  • Alignment with the principles of sustainable procurement – Read my blog ‘The fundamentals of ISO 20400 explained’ for more details.
  • Explicitly spell out the drivers – What is driving this policy and strategy? Why are you as an organisation going on a sustainable procurement journey? This will help set the scene for the procurement team and your supply chain. See my blog ‘The drivers of ISO 20400 explained’ for more information too.
  • Key considerations for sustainable procurement – Managing risks, setting sustainability priorities to allow you to focus your efforts, and exercising your influence with the supply chain whilst avoiding complicity in the procurement process.
  • Contains the 3 pillars of sustainability – Economic, social, environmental and the impacts and opportunities within these that are most important to your organisation, based on the drivers.
  • Commitment to Sustainable Procurement – Is the document endorsed by top management? Not with just a physical signature on it, but are they disseminating the message within the organisation as to the sustainability ambition and providing that all important support?
  • RACI Matrix – Is there an organogram or RACI matrix that denotes who is accountable and who is responsible for the policy and strategy implementation?
  • Placing procurement front and centre in the delivery of the sustainability policy and strategy – Clear sustainability objectives for procurement and includes for supply chain specificities.

Let’s come to implementing what we have just written up, drafted in terms of our policy and strategy.

Implementing the policy requires for it to be rolled out both in-house within the organisation and most important externally with the supply chain. Procurement teams will need internal stakeholder buy-in from the various other functions that feed into the procurement process, so getting them on board via policy and strategy training is key.

Another important element of rolling out the sustainability or sustainable procurement policy and strategy is to train procurement and contract management teams on the various sustainability topics. The Supply Chain Sustainability School have loads of great resources across all sustainability topics which are all free. If you require learning resources in other languages,  you can find plenty of useful links and guides at

But what about the supply chain? How do we roll out our policy and strategy to them? My webinar (video below) demonstrates sustainable procurement in action featuring live client case studies.

Now let’s talk about best practice that I’ve seen in this space.

The Grosvenor Supply Chain Charter, as you will heard in the video is one such example of best practice in implementation:

  • It’s a charter – they expect supply chain action.
  • It outlines Grosvenor’s ambitions.
  • It lists out pathways for existing and new suppliers.
  • It lays out standard requirements for initial implementation.
  • It defines advanced expectations for long terms contracts ad suppliers.
  • It spells out what Grosvenor will do as their part.
  • Most importantly, it talks about a journey and provides resources for h supply chain to upskill themselves.

In implementing the charter, Grosvenor gave suppliers early visibility of the charter and asked them to prepare actions plans around how they could support. They wanted suppliers to help meet their objectives and in a collaborative meeting, the goals, targets, and KPIs were set jointly. That for me is best practice.

The second organisation in the video, West London Authority, with our help ran sessions for all of their supply chain and procurement professionals training them on the policy and setting the expectations of what’s to come.

Writing a sustainable procurement policy is a great start, always. If it is not implemented, you cannot expect procurement and the supply chain to deliver on what is within, therefore making it just a dusty document.

If you would like help in drafting and implementing your sustainability policies, strategies and charters, reach out to our Lead Sustainable Procurement Consultant – Mellita D’silva and our Senior Consultant on Strategy – Imogen Player.

For more information

Mellita D’Silva
Sustainable Procurement Consultant

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