Best Practice Framework Series #9: Want to Excel in the Supply Chain Industry? Engage, Engage, Engage.

Best Practice Framework Series #9: Want to Excel in the Supply Chain Industry? Engage, Engage, Engage.

Think about the first supplier that agreed to do business with you and consider how that relationship laid the groundwork for your procurement practices. In the world of procurement, where sustainability has become a central focus, engaging with your existing suppliers is not just a good practice; it’s imperative. Supplier engagement can drive sustainability by promoting transparency and shared responsibility throughout the supply chain.



Effective supplier engagement is rooted in building mutually beneficial relationships to extract maximum value from partnerships. Through supplier collaboration, organizations promote ethical practices, environmental responsibility, and positive social impact across the supply chain. This strategic approach transforms suppliers from mere transactional partners into key allies, aligning with organizational success and sustainability objectives. 



So why is supplier engagement so critical? Firstly, it drives innovation. By involving suppliers in sustainability initiatives, organizations promote sharing of knowledge and best practices to unlock innovative solutions. Secondly, supplier engagement fosters resilience by strengthening relationships. Suppliers nurtured through collaboration become valuable allies in navigating challenges, ensuring a more resilient and adaptable supply chain. Lastly, supplier engagement improves efficiency by streamlining communication and optimizing processes, resulting in smoother operations and reduced costs.



Working with your current suppliers to foster sustainability involves several key activities including the following: 

  1. Set Clear Sustainability Expectations: Define your sustainability goals and expectations clearly. Communicate these to your suppliers so they understand the importance of sustainability in your partnership. 
  2. Collaborative Goal-Setting: Work with your suppliers to set mutual sustainability goals and collaborate on action plans to achieve these goals. 
  3. Ongoing Communication: Regular communication with suppliers fosters trust, aligns priorities, and ensures ongoing collaboration toward sustainability goals. 
  4. Provide Resources and Support: Offer resources, tools, and training to help suppliers improve their sustainability practices. This could include guidance on sustainable sourcing, waste reduction strategies, energy efficiency, and responsible labor practices. 
  5. Incentives and Recognition: Provide incentives for suppliers who demonstrate strong commitment to sustainability. This could be in the form of preferred partnerships, longer contracts, or supplier products/service showcase. 
  6. Regular Monitoring and Reporting: Implement systems for monitoring supplier performance on sustainability metrics. Regularly review and analyze data to track progress towards goals. Require suppliers to report on their sustainability initiatives and outcomes. 
  7. Collaborative Innovation: Encourage collaboration and innovation among suppliers to find sustainable solutions together. This could involve joint research and development projects, sharing best practices, and co-creating new sustainable products or processes. 


By nurturing relationships with your suppliers in some of these ways, you can encourage the adoption of ESG practices that benefit your business, your suppliers, and the environment. From carbon reduction initiatives to policies combating modern slavery, there’s a spectrum of opportunities for mutual growth such as improvements in diversity/equity and inclusion with the reconciliation agenda.


Remember, supplier engagement isn’t just a checkbox in procurement; it’s a cornerstone for effective contract management and a fundamental element of more sustainable supply chains.  If you are ready to embark on a journey towards a more sustainable and mutually beneficial supply chain, contact us at for help in creating effective supplier engagement strategies.