Video: Procurement Leaders Discuss Sustainability Practices for Supply Chains

March 22, 2021
The C2FO Team

A panel of procurement industry leaders share how thoughtful and bold practices are crucial to supporting a sustainable supply chain. 

For years, companies have been interested in how they can create a sustainable and responsible supply chain. Now, a year into the coronavirus pandemic, the momentum behind environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices is increasing, as companies of all sizes look to shape a more resilient supply chain for the future.

As companies across the globe focus on rebuilding supply chains after the chaos of the last year, it’s imperative they support the crucial players in their supply chains because the stakes have never been higher. 

On Tuesday, March 16, a group of industry leaders gathered for Procurement Leaders’ Innovation In Positive Growth event, headlined by C2FO, to explore how the adoption of sustainability standards can improve the financial health of supply chains.

Steven Hall, head of partnerships and digital engagement for Procurement Leaders, led panelists Colin Sharp, SVP of EMEA for C2FO, Marco Baren, head of operational excellence, supplier development and sustainability at Philips, and Katharina Stenholm, chair of the board of directors for the Ecosystem Fund at Danone, in an engaging discussion titled, “How to positively motivate suppliers to adopt sustainability standards, whilst supporting the financial health of the supply chain.” 

“Covid was a wake-up call to understand the size and importance of climate issues, the biodiversity issues, and perhaps even more importantly, the social issues we have in society,” Stenholm said. “How we support the smaller players in our value chain is even more important than before.” 

Sharp noted that as a global technology company, C2FO has been fortunate enough to capture interesting data on accounts payable and accounts receivable trends. 

“We saw in the very early days, that trend of moving the focus from cost and efficiency to resilience in supply chains, or moving from ‘just in time’ to ‘just in case,’” Sharp said. “So that real balance between sourcing local, sourcing regionally and sourcing responsibly.” 

All panelists agreed that collaboration, especially in challenging times, is the key to creating sustainable supply chains. 

“Whatever you’re doing, cash always was, and always will be, the lifeblood of any organization,” Sharp said. “In C2FO’s ESG agenda, we talk a lot about financial inclusion, which means allowing suppliers access to the working capital they need to fund the changes to do all the things that we’ve just heard about. So you need to be collaborative and supportive in that journey with your suppliers because you will get much back in return.”

Baren said that Philips, a company founded more than a century ago, has been taking “baby steps” toward sustainability since 1972. It’s now evolved into a purpose-driven company that aims to positively impact two billion lives per year by 2025. He also said that by embracing suppliers and throwing away the “stick,” sustainability can become part of your suppliers’ DNA. 

“We do not need sustainability policing,” Baren said. “We need sustainability doctors.” 

If these ambitions to positively impact the supply chain come to fruition, Stenholm said procurement leaders will need to focus on three factors for innovation.  

“I really see three shifts,” Stenholm said. “I think we will see more local, collaborative and inclusive supply chains.” 

Discussion topics 

This virtual event covered how to transform your supply chain to make it more sustainable, inclusive and resilient. Topics include:

  • Selecting and working with suppliers to promote positive shifts in your supply chain, and including them in that sustainability journey.
  • Corporate ambitions to positively impact the lives of suppliers.
  • How to drive ESG-related change by incentivizing and embracing suppliers. 
  • Understanding the social impact of your value chain: where value is generated and how that value is distributed. 
  • Avoid fatigue: How you can move beyond audits to build more collaborative relationships and drive real change. 
  • Why data and AI belong at the heart of ESG initiatives and why data-driven decision-making is key to improving performance.  
  • The importance of visibility and the need for procurement to assess and understand its supply chain. 

To reflect on the week’s events, Tania Dunham, managing director of C2FO’s market innovation team, and Adam Schafer, director of supply chain responsibility for Intel Corporation, held a LinkedIn Live session on the Procurement Leaders’ page on March 18. They discussed key takeaways from the virtual event, including the challenges and best practices of shaping a more resilient supply chain. 

To watch the discussion, click here

The panel 

Marco Baren, head of operational excellence, supplier development and sustainability at Philips 

Katharina Stenholm, chair of the board of directors for the Ecosystem Fund at Danone

Steven Hall, head of partnerships and digital engagement at Procurement Leaders

Colin Sharp, SVP for EMEA at C2FO

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