Stop, Drop and Get Sustainable: Four Ways to Get Sustainable Procurement Started Now

Published March 1, 2019

Category: ESG | Innovation

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Written by: Celia Landesberg
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Celia Landesberg

Celia is an advocate and energetic implementer of sustainable behaviors. A vegetarian since age 10, she always was a driving force behind integrating sustainability into organizations of all types and sizes. In middle school, she implemented the first recycling program. At the University of Richmond, she implemented a sustainable purchasing policy and published climate action results towards 100% greenhouse gas emissions reduction by 2050. A LEED Accredited Professional, Celia executed corporate sustainability strategies and performance analyses for some of the largest real estate companies in the world while working at Goby, a leading energy management and sustainability reporting company for the commercial real estate industry. Celia moved out west to join EcoVadis, the largest collaborative platform that allows companies to assess their suppliers’ environmental and social performance, where she enables world-leading organizations in North America to leverage sustainability as a performance driver for procurement. Celia is a guest lecturer at the University of California on supply chain sustainability and served until recently on non-profit boards to improve food security and food service sustainability in the Chicago area. 

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Whether you read the news on purpose or stumble upon headlines inadvertently, it is tough to miss the stream of stories related to the impacts of climate change. For me, experiencing the California wildfires of 2018 as a new Bay Area resident was an eye-opening period. My place of residence was uninhabitable due to smoke pollution at the same time that I was speaking on a panel regarding catalysts for supplier action on climate risk. The call to action could not have been louder. Each employee, stakeholder and community member of your company or your business partners’ companies already has or will be impacted (some disproportionately so) by the changes in our environments. 
The combination of the fires and the panel left my head spinning for weeks, but the resounding message is clear: 
The time to get sustainable is now.  
No matter how small you start, or how big your vision, get started today. Each day spent in deliberation or stuck in a “tug-of-war” is a day of lost ground in our pursuit to eradicate climate change. Below are four ways to take your first step today. 
1.) Understand your surroundings 
There is a wealth of information available to arm you with relevant collateral to form your plan. Your surrounding business community is a great place to start.  
  • Look at the websites of your customers. What is their program focused on? What are their targets?  
  • Look at the websites of your suppliers, vendors and trading partners. How are they incorporating sustainability into their service offerings?
  • Check out the competition and industry alliances. Are there programs or collaborations in place? These can help set expectations and drive standards to help build your case. 
2.) What problems can you help solve? 
Learn more about what problems your boss is solving for…and your boss’s boss.  
  • What are the critical business challenges this will support?  
  • Are there existing signals or warning signs?
  • What will happen to the business if action is not taken?  
The theme for sourcing professionals continues to veer towards value creation and creative problem solving. In using your learnings from the business community around you, tie these efforts to the highest priority topics in the organization. What is the sales team working on? What is the human resources team hearing from candidates? 
Elevate the conversation to business-critical status to deliver individual, team and company wins for the organization. 
3.) Define your why 
Find out who cares…and why. If you don’t know why you care yet, start there. Next, figure out who else cares. Ask your boss, your peers, your sales team, your HR department. Everyone you ask may give you a different answer – which is okay!  In fact, it’s great.  
These topics impact everyone to some extent, and as individuals we all have our own “why” as our reason for incorporating it. Identifying the why for individuals and for the organization will guide you to determining priorities, desired outcomes and vision. 
4.) Get moving 
What are you waiting for?! Seriously. It does not have to start as a massive commitment, nor does it need to be a five-year strategic plan before you can make progress. Take 15 minutes a day to tackle one question at a time. Find someone to share the answers with. 
If you follow these steps, not only will you unblock yourself and your organization from progressing on these critical topics, but you will actively contribute to elevating the performance of businesses globally. Small actions times big numbers equal big results!  
Plus, I bet you will make new relationships and meet some pretty interesting folks along the way. Click here for resources that can help you on your path to sustainability. 

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