Johnson & Johnson (J&J) is working on a procurement software platform that will streamline the onboarding of social enterprises.
Vasco Grilo, commercial procurement head at Janssen EMEA, a pharmaceutical company of J&J, told SM the system was designed to allow stakeholders to buy online, but it also had the potential to create a level playing field between social enterprises and traditional suppliers.
This plays into J&J’s target to spend £15m – 3% of total spend – with UK social enterprises by 2020. This will help support 150 jobs for people facing challenges entering the job market, such as those with mental and physical disabilities or from vulnerable populations.
Grilo told SM: “We are here to make a profit and impact society in a good and meaningful way.
“We have a responsibility towards the community and the people who work around us. That is the most important value that the programme brings us.”
J&J is one of the founder members of the Buy Social Corporate Challenge, alongside others including Amey, PwC, BP and Santander, who have spent collectively more than £45m with social enterprises since the challenge was launched in 2016. Social Enterprise UK, which organises the scheme, is calling for UK businesses to spend £1bn with social enterprises.
Grilo said currently social enterprises were not onboarded through a traditional tender route. “It is local, granular work matching social enterprises with business needs that involves procurement and budget holders,” he said.
However, he sees this evolving and the software platform will help the process. “In the future what we want to do is bring diverse suppliers into bid processes to compete with other organisations. We are in the early days of doing that,” he said.
“We don’t see bringing social enterprises into the supply chain as charity work. On the contrary, we want these companies to provide quality services at the right price.”
Grilo said contracts with tier one suppliers included terms about plans and objectives for working with social enterprises.
He said supplier diversity required high-level support but it should be important for all firms. “Introducing supplier diversity is something that has to be extremely well articulated. It needs very clear objectives for the procurement categories and for the budget owners.
“There is an intrinsic value for Johnson & Johnson and it should be important for all companies out there.”
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