Procuring for social value drives supply chains to compete and innovate

Sourcing more products and services from social enterprises will deliver more innovation, and cause other suppliers to compete more actively, experts said.

Gemma Lindley, head of supplier engagement at property manager CBRE GWS, told delegates at the CIPS Procurement Futures conference how spending more with social enterprises would create diverse solutions to problems of inflation and disruption, as well as novel portfolios and business offerings.

“It’s about supplier maturity,” Lindley told Supply Management. “Social enterprises are a different kind of partner, and they have a different approach to problem-solving. They’ve got a really diverse range of voices, and can disrupt complacency in suppliers. They’ll deliver a wake-up call to their competitors in the supply chain, who might be failing on social value.”

Andy Daly, head of corporate partnerships at membership body Social Enterprise UK, added that in the last two years, 66% of social enterprises had introduced a new product or service to their offering. This compared to just 35% of other businesses.

“Social enterprises focus on much more than just profits,” Daly explained. “When you’re using your profits to pursue a social or environmental mission, you consider challenges differently and you innovate.”

This, Lindley continued, would drive your other suppliers to improve their offerings, not only on innovation but on social value, in order to compete.

Other benefits from engaging more with social enterprises included:

  • ESG. Many social enterprises began with ESG ambitions built into their business models, so could often be quite advanced in areas such as net zero.

  • Client expectations. With many clients looking to engage more with social agendas and improve their impacts, procuring from social enterprises was an effective way to deliver above and beyond initial expectations and prove your company was taking action.

  • Employee engagement. When teams had a direct connection to the results of their ESG goals, they could see how significant an impact procurement really had – and would become even more engaged with their work, Lindley explained.

  • Brand enhancement. Working with social enterprises was a natural way to improve brand perception.

Mark Rogers, executive director at social enterprise Corps Security, explained that working with social enterprises would also prevent greenwashing – as companies were inherently dedicated to delivering on ESG goals.

“It’s easier than you think it’s going to be,” he said. “We didn’t even know we counted as a social enterprise until Andy [Daly] came to us. Check with your suppliers – you might already be able to improve social value in your supply chain.”

☛ Want to stay up to date with the news? Sign up to our daily bulletin.

London (Central), London (Greater)
Circa £50K
Insight Executive Group
London (Central), London (Greater)
Circa £60K
Insight Executive Group
CIPS Knowledge
Find out more with CIPS Knowledge:
  • best practice insights
  • guidance
  • tools and templates