Vodafone is working with NGOs such as Stonewall to develop criteria for purpose-led tenders © Getty Images
Vodafone is working with NGOs such as Stonewall to develop criteria for purpose-led tenders © Getty Images

Vodafone’s 'purpose-led tenders' quiz suppliers on diversity and planet

Vodafone is implementing “purpose-led tenders in order to support its three pillars of sustainability. 

Ninian Wilson, global supply chain director and CEO of the Vodafone Procurement Company, told delegates at a CIPS Breakfast Briefing the telecommunications firm had launched an initiative in November 2020 to embed purpose-led criteria based around these pillars into the decision making process. 

The three pillars are centred around digitising society and supporting firms and governments to digitise their operations, building a diverse and inclusive organisation and supply chain, and protecting the environment.  

“When I combine those [pillars] with our outlook on safety, the overall scoring percentage can be up to 20% in individual tenders, which is really significant. So when you as a supplier submit a tender, we will be asking, ‘What are you doing on diversity and inclusion?’ and we'll be asking, ‘What are you doing on planet?’” 

Answering those questions could lead to difficulty for small suppliers, Wilson added. In order to manage this, Vodafone is also implementing an information and education hub to help smaller firms affect change, and as a result be more successful in the firm’s procurement processes.

The telecoms firm is working with NGOs such as Stonewall in order to decide on the criteria for purpose-led tenders.

“Our aim here is to create those criteria to tell people how we will be marking and scoring the tenders, and then share it, and then get as many companies to adopt the same philosophy, the same thinking as possible,” Wilson explained.

To align with its environmental pillar, Vodafone has set targets to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 50% by 2030, and to become carbon net zero by 2040. 

Wilson said: “Like all executives, I want to go faster and I want to go faster in the supply chain. But I recognise we're going to have to do a lot of work together to really enact change, and not just to do greenwashing because we want real change that makes real difference to the climate and to the planet.

“In reality that's not quite enough. Vodafone with its €24 billion of spend has a voice. There's no question we have a voice. But what we need on this isn't just one voice. We need a choir of change,” he continued.

“We need a number of companies to stand up and to really push that change, whether it's helping society to digitise, driving a more diverse and inclusive workforce and workplace, or it's on how we stop climate change and we begin to reverse its impacts.”

As Vodafone continues to support its three pillars, Wilson said the firm is committed to sharing its journey to inspire other firms to make changes. 

Wilson said: “You can't have a competitive advantage on saving the planet. We all just need to do that and align around that and make sure as a collective group of businesses, government entities or NGO operations, that we take that extra step to try to protect the one thing we have all in common, which is living on this earth.”

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