Thomas Udesen
Thomas Udesen

How procurement can shape a better future

There is so much passion for driving positive change in the profession and in business, but it will take a firm steer to fully realise that, says Thomas Udesen.

The Sustainable Procurement Pledge (SPP) was established to enable, empower and equip procurement to make it easier to embed sustainability
at the core of the profession.

We hear from many professionals that their bosses will not let them engage with sustainable procurement, either because they don’t know where to start or because they don’t know how to go about making their supply chains more sustainable so avoid dealing with the issue.

However, a lot of young professionals are now entering the profession and saying that sustainability is important to them, that they want to be part of a team that is responsible for transforming supply chains. As such, we need to look at procurement through a new lens.

There is a lot going on, but we need to tackle how procurement leadership can actually drive that change today. This is about the profession, profit, people and the planet. It’s all connected. It’s also a journey, and no one has cracked this yet by any stretch of the imagination.

And while we as a group are involved with several bigger companies, the SPP also provides smaller companies with the support they need to begin that journey, because fundamentally that is exactly what the group is all about.

Ultimately, you need your suppliers to be really good at sustainable procurement. The SPP is focused on helping those that need it most, and those that don’t have the resources to hand to get there. Procurement is sexier than ever – it’s on the front pages of the news. The profession has been thrust into the frontline on everything, which is absolutely as it should be.

Now, the question business leaders need to beasking themselves, their teams and their organisations is: how does procurement shape the future? Both in terms of business as a whole, and also in terms of collaboration. Procurement leaders need to realise the potential of sustainability,
and to grasp the opportunities it offers.

Sustainability is the future of procurement, but how should you go about preparing for this when you don’t know where to begin? The SPP has put together a few simple starting points:

1. Find allies

Find allies you can work with, whether they’re internal colleagues or peers, there are plenty of allies out there. And find different routes if you run into those brick walls, because the definition of insanity is trying something several times and ultimately not changing what you do if it doesn’t work.

2. Be prepared to learn

Be willing to learn and adapt to what you find. We don’t know everything, and it’s important to accept that. That’s especially clear on issues such as scope 3 emissions. We are all going through this same journey and we are all still learning along the way, so you have got to be willing to listen.

3. Stay committed

You’ve got to never give up. If you believe in the cause and still cannot bind your company to a sustainable procurement pledge after doing all of that, then perhaps you need to find an employer that does get it. The market will decide who wins or loses, and there are clearly procurement leaders out there who will support you and will encourage you.

So heed their advice.

Thomas Udesen is CPO at Bayer and co-founder of the Sustainable Procurement Pledge

Join us at the Sustainable Procurement Summit on 17-18 May to meet members of the SPP and of the wider profession who are committed to improving sustainable practices. 

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