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Senior Executives Are Buying into Sustainable Procurement, But Challenges Remain

Posted By Jeff Moad, August 03, 2011 at 11:08 AM, in Category: Sustainability

Large enterprises in Europe have made significant strides over the past year in obtaining top management support for sustainable procurement programs, but many still struggle to gain support from middle managers and to reconcile sometimes competing demands to reduce costs while also pursuing sustainable procurement.

These were among the findings of a recently-released benchmark study of 80 large European enterprises conducted by research firm HEC Paris and sponsored by supplyer scorecard technology provider EcoVadis.

The study found 36% of responding companies reporting that they have made significant progress since 2010 in attracting support from top managers for sustainable procurement programs. Only 12% said lack of support from top managers remains a significant barrier to implementing successful sustainable procurement programs.

Perhaps not surprisingly, most of those studied (56%) said they are increasing resources allocated to sustainable procurement in 2011. Only 4% are decreasing sustainable procurement budgets.

But 44% of large European enterprises said they are still struggling to cope with conflicting demands for short-term cost savings on one hand and longer-term sustainable procurement benefits on the other. Only 11% of respondents said they have been able to make significant progress since 2010 resolving that conflict.

European enterprises also say they are still struggling to obtain support for sustainable procurement programs from middle managers. Sixty percent, for example, said it has been difficult or very difficult to get procurement managers to implement sustainability programs. And 75% said it has been difficult or very difficult to get internal customers to do so. In many cases, the benchmarking report says, such managers have not yet had sustainability objectives added to their individual assessment criteria.

European enterprises also appear to be lagging when it comes to measuring the environmental impacts of their own products. While 92% said sustainable procurement is critical or important, only 25% said they currently condict environmental lifecycle analysis on their own products.

Have top executives bought into sustainable procurement at your company?

Have middle managers bought in?

How have you reconciled the conflicts between the need for short term procurement cost savings and longer-term sustainable procurement benefits?

Category: Sustainability
Written by Jeff Moad

Jeff Moad is Research Director and Executive Editor with the Manufacturing Leadership Community. He also directs the Manufacturing Leadership Awards Program. Follow our LinkedIn Groups: Manufacturing Leadership Council and Manufacturing Leadership Summit


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