Tim visited Washington, DC in May for the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council’s 2016 Summit. There, he co-presented on municipal sustainable purchasing, representing the Municipal Collaboration for Sustainable Procurement (MCSP), alongside Alicia Culver from the Responsible Purchasing Network, and Jonathan Rifkin from the District of Columbia, and learned from other leading sustainable purchasing professionals.
One major sustainable purchasing trend at this year’s Summit was Impact Sourcing. According to the Rockefeller Foundation, “Impact Sourcing means employment for high potential but disadvantaged people in the services sector. This innovative model can help business meet and exceed their cost and quality objectives. It also provides an innovative new offering to clients in an industry looking for innovation.”
In its early stages, sustainable purchasing was geared toward ensuring that suppliers met basic criteria for environmental and ethical protection. These were steps toward positive change, but the focus was squarely on screening out the worst environmental, social, and ethical offenders: organizations had yet to capitalize on their potential to drive positive outcomes.
Fast forward to 2016 and the focus of sustainable purchasing has begun to shift from simply mitigating risks and dangers to capitalizing on opportunities for meaningful change. Over time, the market for environmentally, ethically, and socially preferable goods and services has evolved and matured quite substantially, and organizations across North America have made great progress in working with their suppliers to make positive sustainability contributions to their local and global communities. Impact Sourcing is part of this shift.
The SPLC Summit’s keynote panel focused on Impact Sourcing, and included Microsoft’s Responsible Sourcing Manager, Tim Hopper, who spoke about the global tech giant’s work alongside the Rockefeller Foundation to capitalize on Impact Sourcing opportunities on the African continent. Hundreds of millions of young people across many African nations are in need of sustainable employment opportunities and are well-positioned to fill the need for labour in the global information communications technology (ICT) sector. Companies such as Microsoft are now making the conscious choice to capitalize on this opportunity to drive their business, and ICT sector growth in these countries (read more about this work here and here).
Clearly, the sustainable supply chain conversation has moved from simple risk mitigation toward opportunities to drive and share benefits – both globally and locally – and we eagerly anticipate more of this to come.