social procurement

How Increasing Our Budget Got Us Best Value Promo Tees

 

Are you purchasing promotional merchandise for your staff or your next event? Do you ever think about the life cycle of a product and the emissions created from cradle-to-grave before making a purchase? Read on to see how the Reeve team made their decision in purchasing the most sustainable tees for their annual beach clean-up.

Sustainability is increasingly becoming more of a standard for our day to day lives. Customers are demanding that corporations do better. Rather than looking for the lowest price item, consumers are willing to pay more to purchase items with the best value, whether that be repurposed or sustainably sourced materials or avoiding fast fashion and unethical labor practices. With the state of our environment, it has become evident that corporations and individuals need to do their part to ensure our planet is healthy and sustainable for generations to come.

How we decided on a sustainable option for Reeve merchandise

Recently, the Reeve Team was on the market for promotional t-shirts to host our annual beach clean-up with It’s Your Time. With sustainability constantly on top of our minds, it was our priority to ensure the tees met our 4 pillars of sustainable procurement; qualities such as supporting ethical labor, sustainably sourced cotton, and supporting local businesses were important to us. After doing some initial research online, it was clear that the lowest price shirts would be travelling thousands of miles, made with toxins harmful for the planet and workers, and put together by children working 16+ hours a day. With Reeve supporting clients daily to achieve their own sustainable procurement goals, these features were not something we could put ourselves behind.

This was when we reached out to our friend Denise Taschereau, co-founder of Fairware, for advice on sustainable promotional merchandise that was still cost-friendly for a small business. At Reeve, we have a limited budget for marketing and promotional products, but it was important to make sure the product was aligned with our values. We could have purchased similar products for half the price, but with the exciting features of these tees mentioned below, we stuck to our decision to purchase the most sustainable (and extremely comfy) tees.

3 reasons why we chose eco-friendly products

After learning about the risks and opportunities involved with purchasing eco-friendly promotional products, Denise’s team pointed us to their Tentree products.

“Made with 100% Fairtrade certified, 100% organic cotton and Cradle to Cradle Certified® at the gold level, these tees are some of the best, highest quality tees we could have sourced” – Denise Taschereau, Fairware co-founder.

1. Climate Friendly

Not only is Tentree a a B-Corp and Climate Neutral Certified company but we were also highly impressed with their Climate Action Plan. Their Action Plan includes important aspects such as reducing their carbon emissions, offsetting emissions that are created through projects outside their value chain, and of course measuring their emissions to ensure progress.

2. Ethical Manufacturing and Sourcing

Through their production process, Tentree has focused on reducing water and the use of hazardous chemicals. They have also committed to using only sustainable materials in their products such as organic cotton, recycled polyester and hemp, which have a much lower environmental impact than traditional materials. Like Reeve’s recommendations for suppliers to post factory locations publicly, we were impressed with Tentree’s transparency about the manufacturers and suppliers they choose to work with. It is important to us that they ensure manufacturers are complying with their Code of Conduct and International Labor Standards.

3. Local support

Along with all the fancy features, Tentree and Fairware are local to Vancouver, which means that they don’t need to travel thousands of miles to get to us. In fact, we were able to pick up and transport the tees via bicycle panniers to Reeve’s office in Gastown, Vancouver within 20 minutes.

 

No purchase is too small to make a difference. We need to do better to create a green economy marketplace that reflects the true social and environmental cost of manufacturing the product. Low prices will typically have a negative impact, such as unethical or child labor, and emission intensive manufacturing. When deciding on promotional merchandise to represent your brand, this is not the time to miss out on the opportunity to purchase sustainably. Next time, think about the neat features your products can have to ensure they are aligned with your company’s sustainability goals and values.

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.

Getting Sustainable and Social Procurement Lingo Straight Once and for All

Photo by ThisIsEngineering from Pexels

 

There are a lot of terms being thrown around in the sustainable and social procurement world these days and it’s a source of confusion for many. For example, have you heard Senior Executives or City Councillors talking about fair wage when they actually mean living wage? Or think social procurement is somehow different or distinct from sustainable procurement?

The Canadian Collaboration for Sustainable Procurement (CCSP) is here to clear the air because how can we be effective in advancing our social and environmental goals if we aren’t all speaking the same language? Find below definitions of sustainable and social procurement as well as other important related terms.

 

4 PILLARS OF SUSTAINABLE PROCUREMENT

Sustainable procurement embeds relevant sustainability considerations into processes for selecting goods and services, alongside traditional considerations like price, quality, service, and technical specifications. It’s a broad term that all sustainability issues can be nested under.

Typically, organizations draw from some combination of the following 4 pillars depending on their organizational plans and priorities. However, the best programs integrate all 4 pillars in a comprehensive, holistic way.

 

1. Environmental or Green Procurement

Sometimes referred to as circular procurement, aiming to:

  • reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, waste, energy and water usage, and toxicity,
  • increase the circularity of our economy, and
  • support clean, renewable industries.

 

2. Ethical Procurement

Reducing ‘sweatshop labour’ by:

 

3. Indigenous Procurement

Sometimes referred to as Aboriginal procurement, purchasing from Indigenous owned and operated businesses to support Reconciliation and socio-economic resilience for Indigenous peoples and communities.

 

4. Social Procurement

Reducing poverty and fostering inclusivity by creating economic opportunities for equity-seeking groups and other target populations. This includes:

  • purchasing from suppliers that offer social value, such as non-profits, social enterprises, and diverse suppliers, and
  • mandating suppliers to deliver social value as a condition of the contract, often outlined through Community Benefit Agreements (CBAs).

 

Photo by ThisIsEngineering from Pexels

KEY TERMS FOR SOCIAL PROCUREMENT

Within the domain of social procurement, there are many other related concepts to understand. Find a list of definitions for commonly used terms below.

 

EQUITY-SEEKING GROUPS, often referred to as marginalized populations, include women, Indigenous peoples, members of visible minorities and persons with disabilities. 

 

TARGET POPULATIONS are groups that are of special interest to a community. They may fall outside of traditional equity-seeking groups but are nevertheless important for the health and vibrancy of the community. Examples include youth, new immigrants, veterans, ex-convicts, homeless people, and small-medium-sized business owners.

 

SOCIAL VALUE within the context of procurement includes suppliers offering: 

  • socially responsible production (e.g. certified B Corps), and 
  • leading diversity, equity and inclusion practices, 
  • employment and training for equity-seeking groups and target populations,
  • full-time fair and/or living wage employment,
  • advanced health and safety practices, and the like. 

 

SOCIAL ENTERPRISE is an entity with a mission to achieve social, cultural or environmental aims through the sale of goods and services that reinvests the majority of its profits back into its mission.

 

DIVERSE SUPPLIERS are majority-owned, managed, and controlled by Indigenous Persons or individuals from an equity-seeking community including, but not limited to, women, racialized minorities, persons with disabilities, newcomers, and LGBTQ+ persons.

Many organizations with supplier diversity programs require suppliers to be certified by organizations including the Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council, Women Business Enterprise Canada Council, Canadian Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, and/or the Inclusive Workplace Supply Council of Canada.

 

LIVING WAGES reflect the hourly amount a family needs to earn to cover basic expenses in their specific community. These basic expenses include food, clothing, rental housing, childcare, transportation, and small savings to cover illness or emergencies. Living wages reduce severe financial stress by lifting families out of poverty and providing a basic level of economic security.

For example, Canadian municipalities certified as living wage employers include the City of Vancouver,  New Westminster,  Burnaby,  Port Coquitlam,  Cambridge,  Kingston, Grey Bruce, North Perth, and the County Huron. Some cities have adopted category-specific Living Wage policies like the City of Edmonton’s policy for janitorial services.

 

FAIR WAGES are minimum wage rates for specific occupations. They must be paid by contractors doing work for governments with fair wage policies. These policies generally apply to the construction, trades, and sometimes cleaning and security workers. They are often tied to union wage rates, ensuring contractors don not slash wages and benefits.

For example, the Government of Canada, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick, Yukon and a number of municipalities such as the City of Toronto, Thunder Bay, Clarington, Hamilton, and Vaughn have adopted fair wage policies.

 

COMMUNITY BENEFITS AGREEMENTS (CBAs) require suppliers to provide jobs, training, procurement opportunities, and other benefits to marginalized and target groups in a particular community. They are most often included in Industrial-Commercial-Institutional developments.

For example, Infrastructure Canada’s CEB initiative requires applicable projects to employ or provide procurement opportunities to at least three out of the eight following targeted groups: apprentices, Indigenous peoples, women, persons with disabilities, veterans, youth, recent immigrants, and small, medium-sized and social enterprises.

 

LOCAL PROCUREMENT refers to the purchase of goods and services from suppliers in the buyer’s region and aims to foster local economic development and build stronger relationships with their community.

For example, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador increased their procurement thresholds and implemented a local preference provision in June 2020 to better support local businesses through COVID-19 and beyond.

 

KEEP IN TOUCH

Stay up to date with sustainable procurement news in Canada by following the CCSP on LinkedIn, signing up for the CCSP’s monthly newsletter, and reading our latest Annual Report on the State of Sustainable Public Procurement in Canada.

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WRITTEN BY: TIM REEVE AND ALYSSA MCDONALD FROM THE CANADIAN COLLABORATION FOR SUSTAINABLE PROCUREMENT (CCSP)

 

Collaborating to Activate Social Procurement for Low Value Purchases across Canada’s Public Sector

Results of the Municipal Collaboration for Sustainable Procurement’s 2019 Working Group

By Alyssa McDonald

 

Social procurement is a major trend in sustainable purchasing. It has been gaining ground to complement green purchasing as more public organizations consider how their buying power can positively impact the social wellbeing of their communities such as poverty reduction, economic and social inclusion, and local economic development.

Inspired by this momentum, the Municipal Collaboration for Sustainable Procurement’s 2019 Working Group with members from Calgary, Victoria, Halifax, Edmonton and Mississauga developed and piloted a training program to encourage public credit card and p-card holders to include social value when making everyday purchases like catered meals, promotional materials, and contract labour/services.

They hoped to build awareness around the opportunities for purchases under procurement thresholds, give members tools to make an impact with minimal resources, and promote a united approach for MCSP members across Canada.

 

What is a Working Group?

The MCSP’s Working Group is made of volunteers from current member institutions interested in working together to advance thought-leadership and co-create resources on a topic of mutual interest. They convene for 5-6 facilitated meetings throughout the year and present their work to all members at our final Peer Exchange webinar.

 

How was social procurement defined?

The group’s definition of social procurement is best defined by the presentation itself (see image on right).

More specifically, it signifies purchasing goods and services from suppliers including social enterprises and suppliers that demonstrate best practices in:

  • diversity, inclusion, and accessibility of marginalized populations,
  • providing employment and training for youth and people with employment barriers (e.g. people with disabilities, new immigrants, chronically unemployed, ex-offenders, etc.),
  • offering full-time and living wage employment for marginalized and targeted populations,
  • considering social value in their production process (e.g. Fairtrade, B Corps, etc.), and/or
  • adopting advanced health and safety practices.

 

What did the Working Group accomplish?

The Working Group developed a 15-minute training on “Including Social Value in Your Low-Value Purchases” to deliver to p-cards and credit card holders in public organizations. The content included key definitions, the business case for social procurement, and how and when to consider social value when making a purchase. Additionally, it shared 4 recent social procurement success stories.

Once the training was complete, members tested it on nearly 40 staff across 4 cities – Victoria, Halifax, Edmonton, and Calgary – and used the feedback to finetune the content and create additional resources such as an FAQ document and a guide on “How to Find a Social Value Business”.

 

What did participants think?

Feedback from participants was overwhelmingly positive! They agreed (average score of 4.8/5) that the training:

  1. Enhanced their understanding of the concept and benefits of including social value in their purchases;
  2. Offered relevant information to help them include social value in their purchases; and
  3. Made them more likely to include social value considerations in their purchases.

Feedback forms included quotes like: “Learning about this topic and seeing that the city supports this initiative is making me think about how my section can improve. I hadn’t thought about my purchases like this prior!” and “I’m happy that the city is encouraging more sustainable and community-driven purchases rather than promoting buying whatever is cheapest!” Likewise, the success stories – like the one from Edmonton below – were often cited as insightful and motivating.

 

 

What’s next?

The training materials are shared with MCSP’s 20 member organizations through our online Resource Centre and are actively being updated with new success stories from across our network. Victoria and Halifax have formally integrated the new content into their staff training sessions and intranets… and we’re actively looking for more public organizations interested in implementing sustainable procurement in 2020!

This year, our network is relaunching as the Canadian Collaboration for Sustainable Procurement (CCSP) to officially open our community to the entire public sector and offer more accessible pricing to smaller organizations. Find out more in our new program brochure and reach out to us if you’re interested.

 

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