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June 2020

socially conscious supply chain

How to Build a Socially Conscious Supply Chain

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There was a time when the socially conscious supply chain was more of a side dish, or perhaps icing on the cake so to speak. For instance, after profits were made, it was a nice-to-have if a company performed some social good in the process. Well, these days, the icing on the cake is now the main dish when it comes to branding. In fact, consumers and employees alike expect organizations to be socially conscious. How much has this permeated the mainstream? According to EngageForGood.com:

  • 86% of customers want businesses to have a stand on social issues,
  • 77% feel a deeper emotional connection to socially conscious companies relative to businesses following a more traditional methodology,
  • 73% of respondents said they would be more likely to defend a company if it was socially conscious.

The statistics above aren’t the only research compiled on how beneficial it can be for a modern company to engage in socially conscious practices. The returns can come in the form of consumer trust, greater visibility, improved shareholder value, and an increase in employee retention.

The pressure, not just from employees and consumers, but also from investors and shareholders is to embrace socially conscious practices and become more responsible for the safety and wellbeing of every individual affected by any phase along the supply chain.

Thinking of a socially conscious supply chain means incorporating social, good governance, and environmental factors into decision-making and all processes. Further, this is about a long-term strategy for improving the economic, social, and environmental value along every phase of the chain. 

In 2011, the United Nations Human Rights Council outlined the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) and provided these three pillars:

  • The state duty to protect human rights
  • The corporate responsibility to respect human rights
  • Access to remedy for victims of business-related abuses

By deploying a socially conscious supply chain, companies secure their place to operate in a more socially conscious world. 

Now that you know the reasons, here are four ways you can build a socially conscious supply chain.

Adopt a long-term approach

Remember, a socially conscious supply chain isn’t just a trend. As a result, it is crucial to develop initiatives that are designed for today and in the future. It helps to start with an effective business case and to get buy-in from key stakeholders. 

Prioritize long-term growth over short-term gains. It should be a concept that is holistic in nature. Moreover, the focus should be on mitigating risks, branding improvement, and overall cost reduction. Then, implement tracking capabilities to ensure that your supply chain remains socially conscious.

Audit for social conscious protocols

Looking up and down your supply chain, it is vital to determine areas that could become more socially conscious. The objective is to infuse socially responsible practices throughout your supply chain. You can start by screening prospective new suppliers for their processes around

  • Sourcing
  • Social standards
  • Quality 
  • Environmental standards 

Have your supply chain audit your suppliers regularly along those standards. Next, evaluate your suppliers relative to globally-recognized standards around sustainability. Collect data that can be quantifiable and serve as evidence for any decisions you make. 

If there are socially conscious violations in your supply chain practices, you have the data to move forward with any resolutions you make. In addition, you can work closely with your partners to provide training around socially conscious practices not just for the executives but for their employees as well.  

Stay transparent

Consumers want companies to be both transparent and authentic. Naturally, it’s difficult to be authentic without transparency – which is fundamental towards building a socially conscious supply chain. When you can show transparency within your supply chain, you build trust and may even improve your reputation and competitive standing.

To illustrate, many grocers have had to change their purchasing processes over the past decade where they are buying more fresh produce as demand for processed foods continues to wane. Also, many consumers now want to know whether their food was ethically caught and organically grown. The same is true of the coffee industry where customers are moving towards fair trade sourcing practices such as executed by Equal Exchange or Allegro. In terms of the supply chain, the best option is end-to-end transparency.

With this type of transparency, impact assessments can be executed and any associated mitigation can be quickly deployed. Although this strategy may take more upfront investment, it is the preferred approach as opposed to running a supply chain that imposes human rights violations, environmental damage, and is exposed to fraudulent practices. So then, transparency also allows a company to remedy unfavorable scenarios more quickly and not buckle under the strain of bad branding and outdated practices.

Work with minority suppliers

A socially conscious supply chain includes partnerships with minority suppliers. In fact, minority-run businesses have been growing at two times the national average. This is a part of the economy that must be recognized. Additionally, a supplier diversity initiative can positively impact up to 15% of overall earnings.

Not to mention, all suppliers should be treated fairly and offered fair compensation that is on time. Add flexible contract options and onboarding processes, and you’re on your way to a much more socially conscious supply chain.

Final thought

By taking the steps listed above, supply chain business leaders can improve their branding, reduce their environmental impact, enhance their social impact, and secure their license to operate in a more socially conscious marketplace. What other ways can you think of that will help build a socially conscious supply chain?

 

outsourcing

All You Need to Know About Impact Sourcing

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There isn’t any question that inclusive corporate practices and business shared values have been highlighted in recent years as customers increase their search for companies who induce rich social impact throughout their supply chain and workflows. In fact, contemporary organizations risk falling behind the curve if they don’t adopt impact sourcing in their processes.

For several years, companies looked at deploying “social good” policies as a type of afterthought or even icing on the cake. The main focus was profit. Now, things are changing. Many millennials, and gen Z’ers, actively search for businesses who have long-term strategies around social impact.

Today, embracing and embedding social impact into business processes is no longer an option – it is mandatory. Even prospective employees only want to work for companies that have infused social good practices into their overarching policies.

Not to mention, in an increasingly competitive marketplace, consumers have countless options right at their fingertips. In the end, they will choose to patronize a business with values that align with theirs. Now, let’s talk a bit more about impact sourcing.

What is impact sourcing?

Many industries are in the position to improve their business practices. Impact sourcing simply means employing individuals who come from a disadvantaged background, and providing them with opportunities they might not have otherwise received. 

There are billions of people who just can’t access professional business opportunities because they also don’t have access to higher education. For instance, Africa may have the largest workforce on this planet, but they certainly don’t have enough jobs for their populations. Impact sourcing offers employment to people who live in locations with persistently high rates of unemployment. 

Further, these are people who may live in rural areas, or even slums, and don’t have access to secondary education. So then, as these types of people receive better career opportunities – and higher wages – they can actually go to college and be better able to help their family members who are in need.

Impact sourcing is gaining traction

Led by organizations such as the Rockefeller Foundation and Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), impact sourcing is also proving advantageous for companies who adopt this particular business practice. According to BSR, “Impact sourcing is not philanthropy; it is a business practice that seeks to maximize societal and business outcomes.” There are also some practical applications you can implement within your company. 

  • Focus on the people 

A successful impact sourcing program should not be about the numbers, or even the algorithm, it should be about the people. These are not automated robots, but every employee has unique gifts and talents they can bring to your organization. And, through their tenure with your business, they can spread the benefits throughout their communities. Not to mention, you are accessing a talent pool inundated with motivated individuals. Moreover, you don’t have to change your organization’s values simply because you are hiring in another country or working with a supplier in a disadvantaged area.

  • Business improves through long-term relationships

It always helps to remember that, when it comes to business, the bottom line is still critical. You certainly want to be known as a company who prioritizes social impact. Yet, that shouldn’t be the end all and be all. Your business should still ensure your customers get the quality they’re accustomed to along with the right price and the right customer experience.

Invariably, happy employees are much more productive and they are much more loyal to a company. As a result, they have the potential to become more skilled at their roles which leads to getting a larger amount of work done in less time. The best way to improve happiness and motivation is to offer an opportunity to someone who – under normal circumstances – would not have received such an offer.

Turn your company into a force for good

There is still limited understanding about the various populations – throughout the world – who need more help. In this regard, it takes time and research to determine where your impact sourcing program can make the most impact.

Participate in conversations with people from disadvantaged communities to gain a better understanding of their experiences and challenges. Partner with organizations such as the Global Impact Sourcing Coalition (GISC). Currently, the GISC is challenging its member companies to start hiring at least 100,000 workers before the end of 2020. The GISC also offers toolkits for download which include case studies and best practices. Now, you can design your impact sourcing strategy. 

Next, host job fairs in disadvantaged areas. If your company can’t be there physically, then partner with local organizations. Other ways to help include offering guest lectures, online training, and mentorships. Change people’s lives with training and education.

Remember that disadvantaged communities aren’t only found in developing countries. There are disadvantaged individuals in developed countries, as well. 

Final thought

There is no greater feeling than knowing your company can help disadvantaged individuals out of poverty all around the globe. Impact sourcing can provide some stability in war-torn regions when opportunities for career, education, and training increase. When a person feels secure, they also gain a feeling of peace. Just take a look at the change in formerly war-torn regions of southeastern Europe where many citizens now work remotely for companies all over the world. As the global skills gap continues to grow, it’s time to consider the talent outside of the traditional pools.

 

Premikati Procurement Software

Picking the Right Technology Partner

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Not all technology partners are created equal. The best run companies attract and retain top-notch talent and the on-staff management team knows how to see a project through to success. Lesser companies simply want to cash checks.

By following the eight considerations when selecting a partner below, however, you’ll greatly increase your chances of finding a high-quality technology partner that can deliver.

1. What needs to be done?

First, make sure you understand your project. Many companies and executives have a vague idea of what they are looking for. However, you want more certainty when writing an RFP and reviewing potential partners. Breakdown as many details, features, and functionalities as possible. Consider the user journey, integrations, and future needs as well. Make sure you include all of the above in your RFP. Loop in your on-staff technology and software experts to source their feedback.

2. Put forward a clear and comprehensive RFP

For many companies, the journey to finding an excellent technology partner starts with the Request-for-Proposal (RFP). This document outlines what you need and who you are as a company. You want to provide enough details to give companies a clear sense of the project and scope without bogging potential partners down with unnecessary or redundant information.

3. Price is just one factor

Price is an important consideration but one of many. Make sure you examine other aspects and ensure that no matter the price you pay, you’re getting a good value. Also, make sure you know the “true cost.” Some vendors quote a given price but end up going well over budget, and you may have to pick up the tab. Others tack on costs, like implementation and support. Understand the total costs of the project before signing anything.

4. Deadlines and timelines

Ask the business for a reasonable estimate of the timeline. Don’t simply take their word for it, however, and also ask about projects in similar scope and how long they took to complete it. Further, inquire about projects that went over initial timelines and what happened. What caused the delays and how did they resolve it? Remember, however, quality is often more important than speed. A hasty project may result in poor software that you have to grapple with for years.

5. Ensure that potential vendors are transparent

You want to work with vendors who are honest about their resources, time management, and capacities. Additionally, ask for a clear roadmap with deliverables and goals that the partner feels is reasonable. On your end, the roadmap should be clear and easy to decipher.

6. Review customer testimonies

Great partners can usually offer a lot of testimonies. Past clients, employers, and partners can vouch for their skill and success. Ask for a portfolio and a list of past clients you can contact. When you contact clients, dig deep and inquire about short-comings, hiccups, and more.

7. Check for a warranty or guarantee

Great companies often stand behind their products as a point of pride. It’s a good sign if a company offers extensive warranties, guarantees, or other assurances. On the other hand, if a company offers no guarantee, be wary.

8. Look for social good

This is about converging profit and purpose. At Premikati, we believe every business should be engaged in creating social value. Do we believe we can accomplish both our business goals while empowering society’s goals? The answer is yes, and this is one of the reasons why we partner with SAP.

Invariably, every industry must decide whether to put values over profit. As a female-owned business, Premikati wants to add values and ideals to every choice we make to ensure socially responsible decisions. As the saying goes, “Birds of a feather, flock together.” SAP continues to make a commitment in service of local and global communities. SAP believes every individual brings a unique set of skills, talents, and experiences to induce a truly dynamic workforce. In fact, they have pioneered the effort to promote neurodiversity in the workplace by starting their Autism in the Workplace program in 2013. This program has had major success in hiring employees on the autism spectrum, with a 90% retention rate, to help ensure a much more inclusive workplace for all.

Moreover, SAP supports communities in many ways by contributing to a wide variety of organizations, by supporting employee volunteerism throughout the year, and by partnering with non-governmental organizations (NGOs). For instance, SAP offers a “Dollars for Doers” program with matching gift grants, dollar for dollar, for active employee volunteers to the organization of their choice.

Take-Away: Diligent effort now can prevent future mistakes

There’s no way to guarantee that you’ll find the perfect technology partner. Still, by considering all of the above, you can greatly increase your chances of success. Choosing the right partner is a vital step to ensuring a good project outcome, so take your time, examine things closely, and find the partner who aligns with your values and objectives.

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