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Decoding Supplier Diversity

The Canadian Collaboration for Sustainable Procurement wrapped up 2021 on December 9th, hosting a final peer exchange focused on the work from their Supplier Diversity Working Group. Supplier diversity can be defined as the stratification of efforts in two key areas:

  1. Increasing in the diversity of the firms you do business, with a focus here on equity-seeking and equity-deserving groups.
  2. Working with suppliers’ whose workforce is diverse.

The working group really lived up to their name this last year, having developed some key tools for defining and operationalizing supplier diversity. Rosalie Peevers, Senior Procurement Advisor in Supplier Diversity at CBC Radio Canada, and Lisa Myres, Senior Project Manager in Procurement Services at the University of Toronto, shared their stories of how their organizations got started and are trending with increasing their supplier diversity.

Photo by <a href="https://unsplash.com/@timmossholder?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Tim Mossholder</a> on <a href="https://unsplash.com/s/photos/diversity?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Unsplash</a>

Folks reading this may be first wondering what constitutes a diverse supplier? These suppliers are categorized as organizations that are at least 51% owned, managed, or controlled by persons belonging to an equity group or social purpose enterprise. Increasing your engagement with these types of suppliers may seem challenging at first glance, but with the right tools it’s achievable. The working group produced a set of tools; a supplier diversity certification council profile, and a Supplier Diversity Training Presentation slide deck, serving as deliverables for CCSP members to use freely in implementing supplier diversity at their organizations.

Sustainable procurement and supplier diversity work spans scaled spending levels, from low value p-card purchasing, to tenders and RFP’s, to large-scale capital projects. This span of spending levels creates many opportunities for improving your supplier diversity. Action items can include inviting at least a single diverse supplier to your RFP’s, focusing in on low-spend sole source as an area of interest in contracting a diverse supplier, increasing visibility to diverse suppliers, or simply better explaining corporate procurement processes and through direct engagement. Supplier diversity still a novel topic in Canada, and even the smallest strides in this area are impactful.

Supplier diversity is a business strategy, not a program. It is evolving from a social responsibility to a strategic enabler. The market is being flooded with new and innovative products from diverse suppliers, and folks working in procurement have the power to vouch for their growth and engagement with buyers. Employee satisfaction, brand value, flexibility through supply chain, fostering innovation and lower cost are all concrete benefits from strengthening your organizations’ supplier diversity. The intention behind buying also becomes clear when diverse suppliers are considered and involved, highlighting the nature of the engagement as a relationship  rather than a transaction.

Rosalie and Lisa advised those in procurement to really connect with their community of diverse suppliers and take the initiative to understand the variety of options and the stages those businesses are at. They stressed the importance of documenting your efforts, synthesizing the data in a way that’s productive to your organization. The ability to quantify the percentage of diverse suppliers your organization is engaging with, or at least your status on supplier diversity, is how you can communicate to corporate leaders the importance of the cause.

Fostering Vibrancy in our Communities’ Through Social Procurement

By creating economic opportunities for equity-seeking and target populations, social procurement is a key mechanism in reducing poverty and fostering inclusivity. It promotes and/or mandates more purchasing from suppliers that offer social value. It’s as simple as leveraging social value from existing purchasing practices to enhance inclusivity, vibrancy, and the overall health of communities. One little known fact is that social procurement fits neatly inside many other social impact related goals, e.g. poverty reduction strategies, diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies. Rather than something extra to achieve, social procurement is a tool to help better achieve existing goals.

The Canadian Collaboration for Sustainable Procurement (CCSP) hosted a Social Procurement Virtual Peer Exchange to over 85 members midway through November. Kim Buksa, the Sustainable and Ethical Procurement Manager at the City of Vancouver, and Matthew David, the Manager of Capital Projects and Projects for Transportation Services at the City of Toronto provided a wealth of expertise on the topic for all who attended. They discussed practical steps and tips for finding social procurement opportunities in organizational spend, matchmaking, and explored the benefits of a Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (JEDI) lens.

No matter the price, social value is always there.  

The following best practices are some practical avenues to understanding and implementing social procurement:

  1. Matchmaking: Break down the ‘what’ and the ‘from who’ of the supplier engagement process in procurement. For each individual procurement or service, consider finding several diverse supplier options, such as locally owned, Indigenous, or social enterprise. Think about drawing out a social value outcome on that procurement.                                                                                                                                                                      f
  2. You don’t have to do it all: Set realistic goals and identify gaps in existing social procurement to use as focus areas. Locate partner businesses that meet more than one need.                                                                                                                                                                                                                       f
  3. For the people, by the people: Elevate the weightings for key demographics your organization would like to engage with as suppliers. Call out social enterprise, Indigenous organizations, or temp agencies within union environments. Many of these are available through non-profits that have employment spaces.

 

Aligning the diversity of your supply chain with the diversity of your community is the cornerstone of fostering more social procurement and creating best value for folks and businesses alike. The social pillar of procurement works alongside the environmental, indigenous, and ethical elements as a tool to improve community investment. This value and impact is multiplied as social enterprises’ increasing involvement in contracts drives the market for diverse suppliers.

Letting go over financial concerns around initial spend and focusing primarily on best value or total costs of ownership can be a challenge. To address this, the paradigm around social procurement must shift towards creating a market with endless options for diverse suppliers, contractors, and apprentice organizations. Purchasers,

The transformative mechanism of social procurement on traditional buying and selling has massive potential to change local and national economies, and build community capital. The CCSP network provides a wealth of connections to members to collaborate and engage in discussion around topics such as this one, as well as attend Peer Exchange Webinars and hear from industry experts. If you’re interested in learning more, join the CCSP today and become equipped to create meaningful impact in your organization and community.

Buy Sustainably With Confidence: Understanding Eco-Labels

Ecolabels are meant to ease the process of purchasing more sustainable products by providing a certification that buyers can recognize as meeting environmentally, ethically, or socially responsible criteria. The goal of ecolabels is to promote sustainable products to buyers while providing the burgeoning market for sustainable products with a sense of assurance. However not all ecolabels use the same stringent criteria, thus allowing for deviations in standards for sustainable certification and casting a seed of doubt on what ecolabels can do for you.

Eco Labels

The Canadian Collaboration for Sustainable Procurement (CCSP) hosted their Ecolabels and Certifications Deep Dive Peer Exchange to an audience of over 80 members in late October. Two experts joined us from TCO Development: Clare Hobby, Director of Global Purchaser Engagement, and Stephen Fuller, Senior Criteria Manager. Our member presenter was Tori Grant, Advisor in Sustainability Reporting at the University of Calgary. These experts shared tips, outlined below, to ensure ecolabels provide the ease and assurance we want, and ways to leverage the best ecolabels to make more sustainable product choices right away.

Demand the Best from your Ecolabel:

Not all ecolabels are created equal. There are 3 types of ecolabels with different characteristics that affect their efficacy, dependability, and diligence.

Type 1 ecolabels are a third-party assessment of a product based on the environmental and social impacts of a product or material throughout its life cycle. Evaluation and selection requirements of type 1 ecolabels are available to the public.

Type 2 ecolabels are self-declared claims made by manufacturers or distributors and are not independently verified. These tend to focus on a particular quality of product e.g compostable or ‘dolphin safe’.

Type 3 ecolabels are voluntary declarations of the sustainability of a product or service.

 

Buyers can rely on Type 1 ecolabels to enforce strict sustainability standards and provide truly sustainable options. Buyers should beware of ecolabels that do not verify a specific quality of product, include vague claims, or that rely on the buyer’s own conclusions about the sustainability of the product.

While Type 1s are the cream of the crop, buyers should also ask two things of their ecolabels to get the most hidden impact out of their supply chains:

  1. Does this ecolabel certify environmental AND social responsibility?
  2. Does this ecolabel require mandatory independent verification?

 

Demanding independent verification of ecolabels is the sure-fire way to safeguard one’s supply chains against risk. Without independent verification, ecolabels cannot guarantee that a manufacturer is upholding its promise to obey sustainable criteria. Certain ecolabels will provide the option for independent verification but do not enforce it, thus allowing manufacturers to slip through a loophole.

Our Favourite Ecolabels:

We’ve created a list of recommended Type 1 ecolabels to look for when you’re next purchasing from any of these 4 categories: Information Technology, Furniture, Cleaning Products, or Paper.

Reeve Favourite Eco-Labels

 

Each of these ecolabels is accessible, diligent, and provides assurance on a product. Leverage these ecolabels, or your own preferred list, to start making more sustainable choices today. Consider the low-hanging fruit of low value procurement or less costly purchases; can you look for the TCO Development sticker when shopping online for a new laptop, or consider products with the Ecologo sticker when shopping for a more all-purpose cleaner for your office kitchen? Let a top tier ecolabel do the work to verify your purchasing options and make the easy switch today to pick a product that will leverage your spend.

Getting Dialed into Sustainable IT Procurement

Would you like to know how procuring sustainable IT can actually help you achieve best value for your spend? Read on to find out why sustainable considerations can be the best options for your budget!

The IT space is fraught with ethical and environmental sustainability considerations, including but not limited to e-waste, worker safety, and energy and resource usage. With many issues to consider, procuring sustainable IT can seem like a daunting challenge. Buyers want the best value for their spend, while retaining quality, longevity of their devices, and efficiency.

While it may seem counterintuitive, including sustainable considerations into the procurement process can in fact help buyers achieve best value for their money and increase the lifespan of their electronics, while avoiding significant risks in their supply chain.

The Canadian Collaboration for Sustainable Procurement hosted their Trends and Tenders in Sustainable IT Peer Exchange to an audience of 100 members in late September. Two experts, Frances Edmonds, Head of Sustainable Impact at HP, and Terminder Singh, Contracts Officer at the City of Winnipeg shared their top considerations for sustainable IT procurement. We’ve collated their advice into the following 3 steps.

1. Identify your Opportunities:

Staying abreast of the opportunities and risks in your supply chain is a tried-and-true CCSP best practice element. At CCSP we call it a High Impact Procurement Opportunities list, or HIPO list. Conducting a self-assessment of your current procurement processes and products will enlighten you to potentially unforeseen and underutilized opportunities. You may be able to achieve greater value for your spend by taking advantage of sustainable opportunities such as lower device energy usage, reparability, and higher quality materials that will not only have good sustainable impact, but also ensure a high-preforming product.

Through a series of 15 pilots, Canada HP and Green Economy Canada created a free Self-Assessment Tool to help public sector organizations identify and implement sustainable procurement practices. It includes categories on hardware and supplies such as paper, ink and toner, energy usage, and ecolabels.

Find the Self-Assessment Tool Here.

2. Ask the Best of your Supplier:

While suppliers are the ones implementing and creating more sustainable standards for IT, buyers are the enforcers of effective and timely sustainable impact. Including questions and awarding points for supplier transparency in addition to product specific requirements is a sure way to ensure you’re receiving the most sustainable options, and that your suppliers are actively seeking new ways to provide better quality sustainable products. Some questions to ask your supplier include:

  1. Does the company disclose their carbon footprint to CDP under “Climate” disclosure? If so, what is the score?
  2. Does the company disclose to Forests, Water, and Supply Chain CDP disclosures? If so, what are the scores?
  3. Does the company have set science-based targets through the Science Based Targets Initiative?

3. Buy your Product as a Service:

Perhaps the most important trend today in sustainable IT is the movement to buy the Product as a Service (PaaS). Suppliers such as HP are restructuring how they manufacture and sell to support the circular economy by increasing the longevity of their devices, reducing weight and packaging, including reparability as part of the product’s initial cost, and much more. PaaS ensures that you get best value for you spend by increasing the lifespan of devices, introducing higher quality materials, reducing energy consumption, and more. Certain specifications to consider if you’re interested in asking for PaaS from your supplier include:

  1. Does the product include recycled content?
  2. Does the supplier offer device reparability and/or take-back programs?
  3. Does the device comply with EPEAT standards?
  4. Can the supplier offer a calculation of the carbon footprint of the device over its service life?
  5. Does the supplier offer sustainability support, to help you reduce your organization’s impact?

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As buyers there is a lot we can do to contribute to a circular economy and increase our sustainable impact, whilst still obtaining high-preforming IT products for a good price. Armed with the knowledge that many suppliers are moving towards a more sustainable production model, be confident that your sustainable specifications and questions are not demanding too much. With demand comes great supply!

The ‘How-To’ Guide You Always Knew You Needed

Are you passionate about fighting climate change, reducing waste, and improving the lives of your community members? Read the CCSP’s Sustainable Procurement Guide to find out what your role is in creating a greener, more ethically and socially responsible community with procurement.

 

Sustainable Procurement Guide

Cities across Canada are launching new commitments to fight climate change and build thriving, inclusive communities. Procurement is an emerging leverage point to meet those goals by integrating sustainability into city purchasing. Local government and public sector leaders are aware of the potential of sustainable procurement but aren’t sure where to get started. The Canadian Collaboration for Sustainable Procurement (CCSP) has released the ‘Sustainable Procurement Guide for Local Government and Public Sector Leaders’ to engage community members, city councillors, and sustainable procurement champions in discussions of the role they can play. It can be used as a starting point to get the conversation underway in your city to enact sustainable procurement programs, remove confusion, and help integrate existing sustainability initiatives.

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About the Guide:

The purpose of this guide is to enable government officials and community champions to not only better understand what sustainable procurement is, but also to drive sustainable procurement pilot projects and programs in their city. The guide was created by CCSP, a member network of Canadian public sector institutions who commit to aligning organizational spend with sustainable values. Through a partnership with the UBC Scholars program, CCSP curated the shared experiences of their members’ journeys for getting started on sustainable procurement at their institutions. The guide outlines key sustainable procurement terms to help you integrate language into your day-to-day conversations, definitions for the 4 pillars of sustainable procurement to elucidate the importance of each, a best practice framework that takes the guesswork out of getting started and more. The guide also debunks the most common myths that sow doubt into the power of sustainable procurement.

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Sustainable Procurement MythBusters:

“Sustainable goods and services are more expensive.”

Purchasing sustainable products or services now generally costs the same as buying traditional or less environmentally preferable products. When higher upfront costs exist, often overall benefits of sustainable products or services will create a valuable investment.

“Sustainable options are either not available or not as effective.”

The market for sustainable products has exploded in the last decade. Some product categories have a significant number of sustainable options, increasing the likelihood of receiving competitive bids if sustainable attributes are required.

“Implementing sustainable procurement will take too much time.”

Initially, sustainable purchasing does require some time investment to develop a policy framework, integrate sustainability into procurement processes, and to train staff, but tools are available to help integrate sustainability into all types of procurement practices.

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Join the Movement

There’s more where that came from! The Canadian Collaboration for Sustainable Procurement (CCSP) is a member-based network of Canadian public-sector institutions working together to align their spending with their values and commitments on sustainability. Our members meet virtually to network, share information, and co-create tools to better address green, social and ethical opportunities and risks in their supply chain. At 40 members strong, our network provides support and opportunities for collaboration across the nation. There’s no need to go this route alone; reach out to CCSP for support in getting started on your sustainable procurement journey. We all get started somewhere!

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Download the Guide Here

Trade Agreement Scrabble – achieving a triple word score!

Trade Agreements afford lots of room for social outcomes; they’re not as daunting as they seem!

Public sector institutions are increasingly pursuing social and indigenous procurement opportunities that improve the lives of disadvantaged individuals and communities. Like the dreaded ‘X’ in a hand of Scrabble, Procurement professionals often point to trade agreements as a barrier to pursuing social and indigenous outcomes.  While there are some trade agreement no-no’s, there is plenty of room for triple bottom line results.READ MORE

5 Factors for High-Impact Sustainable Procurement

 Are you aiming to get more meaningful change and positive social impact through your procurement? We’ve heard from over 40 organizations that these 5 success factors are key contributors to sustainable procurement that drives positive change in the supply chain.

Over the last 24 months Reeve Consulting has interviewed over 40 supply chain and sustainability representatives from governments, crown corporations and private sector organizations on the essential elements of sustainable procurement and what it takes to move beyond Policy to actual action and impact on the ground.

We’ve summarized the results of these practitioner interviews and collated the 5 success factors that are most commonly cited for creating high-impact sustainable procurement program.READ MORE

Ready, Set, Go Green your Fleet!

 

Green and alternative fuel vehicles are at the front of mind for most organizations across Canada, and with recent innovations in the sector it’s easy to get excited about fleet procurement opportunities. And it’s right on time. Transportation-related emissions make up 23% of Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Light duty vehicles including passenger vehicles and trucks make up 50% of emissions; heavy duty vehicles account for 35%. Reducing fleet emissions is central to Corporate Sustainability Strategies in both the public and private sectors. Every major city in Canada includes Fleet GHG reductions in their Corporate Sustainable Plans and Purchasing has a central role to play in meeting these goals.

 

The 3 pillars of Green Fleets

1. Electrifying the Fleet – i.e. replacing vehicles with electric options and establishing an effective and accessible charging

2. Fueling the Fleet – i.e. purchasing fuel with renewable, biologically derived content (e.g., B20).

3. Optimizing the Fleet – i.e. using technology and driver behaviour to reduce emissions.

 

Participants heard from Calgary’s Jack Nott, Team Lead of Acquisitions, Fleet Services and Vancouver’s Evan Dacey, Acting Branch Manager, Fleet Strategy and Asset Management about their progress on the three pillars. They covered issues such as costs, market maturity, the business case for EV’s, RFX requirements, and provided expert opinions on questions from those in attendance.

 

How to Specify

Rather than prescribing vehicle specifications, Calgary includes performance criteria such as “reduced energy consumption is preferred” — asking vendors to state all available low emissions, alternative fuels and EV options and demonstrate how these options reduce energy use. Having information on all technologies gives Calgary flexibility to negotiate them into the contract and sends a signal to the market. When asked if this reduced the numbers of bidders, Jack said it was quite the opposite.  The number of bidders increased, and every bidder included EV chassis pricing.

 

The Business Case

The upfront capital cost of EVs is a barrier. Considering the total cost of ownership can shift the balance in favour of EVs. In a recent RFP, Calgary found that the Chevy Bolt and Tesla 3 had the lowest total cost of ownership for compact and mid-size cars, respectively based on three simple questions:

 

1. How much is it?

2. How much does it cost to maintain?

3. How much does it cost in fuel to drive it a certain distance?

 

 

Vancouver cited additional benefits that offset the cost of medium and heavy-duty trucks including:

  • Internal carbon price of $150/tonne which effectively increases a department’s operating budget.
  • Worker health benefits associated with noise reduction on the job.

 

Pilots Projects

Another challenge in electrifying the Fleet is limited supply in vehicle categories such as medium and heavy-duty trucks. So, City of Vancouver is conducting pilot projects rather than following a more conventional RFP process.

Here’s how Vancouver approached it:

1. Conducted an RFEOI to better understand the market.

2. Issued an RFA (Request for Application) and pre-qualified three vendors.

 

 

They are now working with three vendors to test 4 chassis models on 2 cube vans and 2 refuse trucks.

 

With so much information, greening fleet vehicles can seem daunting; what we learned from Jack Nott at the City of Calgary, and Evan Dacey at the City of Vancouver is that this is not the case. By asking simple questions of their suppliers, deviating from conventional methods when necessary, and encouraging flexibility from their vendors, Calgary and Vancouver are now piloting innovative technologies instead of piloting policies.

Just Released: The CCSP’s 2020 State of the Nation Report on Sustainable Public Procurement in Canada

The Canadian Collaboration for Sustainable Procurement (CCSP) has just released its Annual State of the Nation Report which showcases the efforts of its 30 member institutions to align their spending with their sustainability commitments. The report highlights that despite the effects that COVID-19 has had on their supply chains and organizational budgets this national community has still managed to advance their social, ethical, Indigenous, and green procurement goals. . In a difficult year, these member institutions shifted to procurements that benefit local and global communities and hopefully inspire other public-sector institutions to join the sustainable procurement movement.

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About the State of the Nation Report

The Annual State of the Nation on Public Procurement in Canada highlights the latest sustainable procurement trends, features member success stories from across the country and includes the popular ‘moon chart’, which benchmarks CCSP members progress towards high impact programming that shows demonstratable outcomes. Information for the report was gathered through interviews with CCSP members from November 2020 to February 2021.

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Top 5 Sustainable Procurement Trends of 2020

2020 Annual Report on the State of Sustainable Public Procurement in Canada

The public sector saw a shift in priorities this year as COVID-19 affected buying-power, single-use plastics usage, work environments, and prompted discussions of Living Wage policies. Organizations like universities, cities, and crown corporations were forced to refocus their priorities towards emergency response efforts, and sustainable procurement efforts were left with reduced resources. Some trends to emerge from these circumstances include:

  1. The Return of the Disposable: Single-Use Plastics Explode
  2. Living Wage Programs Explode to Help Front-Line Workers
  3. City Councillors Mainstream Buying for Good
  4. COVID Response Efforts Turbo-Charge Buying from Local SME’s
  5. Increased IT Purchasing to Support At-Home Workers

Social and Indigenous procurement was by contrast, boosted by the Black Lives Matter movement and the Canadian pipeline and railway protests. These movements brought forth national conversations on racial inequalities, economic disparity, and reconciliation, and have led to increased attention to opportunities for inclusion in procurement.

 

Success Stories

The City of Nanaimo began their Urban Clean-Up Program in response to concerns voiced by downtown residents and businesses about the impacts that social issues were having on the urban areas of the city, such as litter and debris. The City reached out directly to the Nanaimo Region of the John Howard Society and together they hired individuals with barriers to employment, such as those who have experienced homelessness or incarceration, to clean up discarded needles and other debris. The program has been successful both for the hired participants, who are receiving a fair wage and work experience, and for the resulting cleanliness of the downtown area.

The Government of Yukon advanced reconciliation through infrastructure procurement by engaging local Indigenous groups and contracting to Indigenous workers . In Yukon, where 23% of the territory’s total population is Indigenous (2016) and 11 out of their 14 First Nations are self- governing, the Government of Yukon has long considered Indigenous peoples as key partners. The project has set new standards for acknowledging Indigenous citizens impacted by infrastructure projects in their communities.

 

The CCSP community has made great strides this year despite unfavourable circumstances and have championed sustainable procurement in Canada for another year. We encourage you to download the full report here and contact Erin Unger, Program Manager for the CCSP should you be interested in learning more about the community.