Develop Talent


Support the development of sustainability knowledge, competencies, and skills.

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Help your team develop the knowledge, competencies, and skills to address sustainability issues and support improvements in your value chain.

Identify your desired sustainability competencies

To bolster your sustainability efforts, first, identify the competencies your team members need, such as an understanding of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) issues, lifecycle and systems thinking, supplier inclusion and diversity, and the capacity to communicate the value of sustainability to suppliers and internal business partners. Consider integrating these sustainability competencies into your existing competency matrix to build a sustainability-focused team that can contribute positively towards your procurement function. Ensure your job descriptions reflect the importance of these sustainability competencies and that progress toward these competencies becomes a key topic in feedback sessions, performance reviews, and promotion decisions.

EXAMPLE: HP's Eco-advocates program

HP drew on sustainability experts worldwide to craft its internal education platform, providing employees access to podcast and webcast modules on various subjects, including conflict minerals, greenwashing, and the circular economy. Employees, including customer-facing staff, learn to brief customers and broader audiences on these issues.¹

Create a development plan and allocate resources for targeted development

Establish a development plan to address competency gaps. This will include supporting the procurement and supply chain team to build their understanding of sustainability and supporting the sustainability team to improve their knowledge of procurement and supply chain.

Identify your procurement team's skills gaps and devise a strategic plan for sustainability-focused upskilling. Facilitate training opportunities and equip your team with communication tools to articulate sustainability's value when engaging with stakeholders. Allocate the necessary resources for this transition, including budget and release time.

EXAMPLE: Microsoft's Holistic Approach to Upskilling for Sustainability

Microsoft recognises the value of on-the-job training and promotes the growth of sustainable skills within its existing workforce.² It utilises a comprehensive strategy that includes setting sustainability training goals, promoting in-house academies and rotations, and employing an upskilling strategy to build a talent pipeline while also encouraging a broader, skills-focused approach to identifying potential talent, even from diverse backgrounds and unrelated previous roles.

EXAMPLE: Patagonia experiential learning tours

Patagonia attributes its adoption of organic cotton to employee farm tours that instilled deep and lasting support to drive its supply chain transition to organic. ³

EXAMPLE: Energy company cascades companywide sustainability direction down to the functional level

INNIO, a natural gas and hydrogen company, has created a "Sustainability Review Board" to coordinate procurement efforts on sustainability. It communicates the team's overall direction, shares trends, and raises awareness of regulations. To ensure everyone has the knowledge they need, it organises monthly training workshops and sends targeted communications to different roles.⁴

EXAMPLE: Sustainability tip sheet at Walgreens Boots Alliance

Walgreens Boots Alliance launched a sustainability tip sheet that highlighted key ESG targets and goals to increase baseline knowledge about sustainability within the organisation. A greater understanding supported the procurement departments abilities to advance sustainability conversations with suppliers and created a foundation for meaningful supplier engagement.⁵

Provide opportunities for external learning

Leverage opportunities for experiential, cross-industry, and cross-sector networking activities to provide practitioners with new perspectives that help deepen their understanding of sustainability issues and galvanise their commitment to sustainability. These experiences may vary. For instance, you can tour supplier facilities or local communities to appreciate sustainability issues on the ground.⁶ Or you can invite guest speakers to share new ideas. Their insights and perspectives will be received more openly if you bring in peer experts with insider understanding they can trust.⁷ You can also start with a more straightforward approach by inviting external speakers and organising reflective exercises that allow employees to examine their thinking on sustainability topics.

EXAMPLE: Bringing community leaders and procurers together⁸ Belgian NGO CATAPA hosts speaker tours featuring Latin American activists discussing mining impacts, Indigenous rights, and environmental degradation. They connect with procurers, highlighting procurement's role in mitigating these impacts and providing insights on fostering sustainable practices through supplier and community collaboration.

Making a Case for Investment in Your Company's Sustainable Purchasing Program cover

Making a Case for Investment in Your Company's Sustainable Purchasing Program

This white paper by the Sustainable Leadership Purchasing Council (SPLC) will help you make a case for resourcing your sustainable procurement efforts. It delivers practical guidance on how to do this based on insights from eight sustainable purchasing champions working in various industries.

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Tool 3: Embedding Decent Work into Corporate Processes and Systems

The UNGC's Decent Work Toolkit for Sustainable Procurement consists of three modules with key learnings, training exercises, and practical case studies to enable procurement staff and their suppliers to take action to improve labour conditions for supply chain workers. Tool 3 covers Embedding Decent Work into Corporate Processes and Systems.

Identify Gaps: This includes the section "Resolving Dilemmas Around Decent Work." It offers practical guidance on addressing what may seem like competing objectives between cost saving and sustainability.

Clarify Responsibility: This tool includes a "Buyer KPIs" section that provides a list of example KPIs that you can adopt or use as a source of inspiration to help embed sustainable procurement into your processes and systems.

Develop Talent: Tool 3 also includes a training exercise package on decent work in supply chains. You can use these practical exercises to engage your colleagues on the topic.

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14 Great Examples of Experiential Learning in the Workplace

This article from Forbes outlines a host of different types of experiential or hands-on learning methods. The ideas presented can be applied broadly in any business function.

Sustainable Purchasing Online Course [PAY TO USE] cover

Sustainable Purchasing Online Course [PAY TO USE]

This self-paced, online course will take you step-by-step through the considerations you need to know to create a successful sustainable procurement program so you can make clear and confident purchase decisions that are socially responsible; stop wasting time and getting lost in sustainability research and ideas; have a positive impact on the environment as you transform your supply chains.

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Being an Effective Change Agent

How can you prepare yourself to be a more effective sustainability change agent? This guide was designed to share insights on how change agents can support their CEO and influence thinking on sustainability. It is based on a review of prior academic research on CEO decision-making and combined with the practical experiences and insights gleaned from interviews with over 200 CEOs, board members, and sustainability executives. It explores a broad range of global companies and industries including finance and insurance, material extraction, retail, manufacturing, transportation, logistics, utilities, and agribusiness, as well as a diverse array of ownership structures, including public corporations, privately owned businesses, and co-operatives.

To further support you in bolstering your own effectiveness, we have also developed the Being an Effective Change Agent: Personal Inventory. We encourage you to use this as a tool for reflection, and to help you plan your future personal development.