Do something pro-social this Christmas

Christmas is a time to do something for other people. Maybe you are looking in on an elderly neighbour or volunteering at a homeless shelter. Individual giving is worthy, as are collective efforts by organizations (and the procurement people that represent them).

Instead of just donating or raffling our suppliers’ Christmas gifts for charity, what if Procurement professionals took a more proactive approach to generate good throughout our supply chains and the communities that are impacted by them? This is pro-social procurement.

Pro-social procurement considers the positive impact of sourcing decisions on the organization, on society, the economy and the environment.

The UK public sector implemented the Social Value Act into its procurement practices in 2010. This tasks commissioners with thinking about the wider social, economic and environmental benefits of their procurement activity. Social Value Awards give recognition to government agencies who have demonstrated best in class performance.
The private sector also has good practice in this area, for example:

  • Tesco offers 14 days payment for suppliers receiving less than £100,000 income from the retailer, so that small organisations can thrive without cash flow concerns.
  • KPMG has a long history of providing wide access for professionals coming into their industry, working with government to support applicants from low income families and other disadvantaged groups.
  • Sovereign Housing Associations supports careers fairs for their social housing residents, enabling them to access work place opportunities within and outside the organisation, in their local community.

Procurement professionals from industry can give a sustainable gift this year by influencing Procurement leaders to adopt at least one pro-social procurement practice for 2017. Here are some ideas:

  • Incorporate social value into your category business needs. For each sub-category where the stakeholder has defined their requirements against availability, quality, service, cost, innovation and regulatory (AQSCIR) needs, encourage them to think about how suppliers in the market could also contribute to the communities they recruit from and the environment they work in.
  • Build cost models alongside small business suppliers, who may welcome coaching in how to establish a sustainable, long term agreement with a reliable corporate customer.
  • Evaluate prospective suppliers based on their evidenced pro-social efforts. For example, how do suppliers support the community, economy and environment through their recruitment, learning, career support and staff charity days.

Pro-social procurement is not about driving suppliers to invest even more cost in order to win or keep your business. It is about building a socially responsible framework around our existing procurement practices so that we do not neglect pro-social elements in our supplier selection, contracting, contract management and performance evaluation.