Send clear signals by outlining credible value chain sustainability commitments, including setting a clear vision, articulating a credible public position, and setting clear goals and targets.

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Making commitments helps align your employees and external value chain partners with your sustainable procurement strategy by preparing them for shifts in your priorities and business model, enabling them to support your vision and goals.

Articulate your vision

Begin by envisaging your desired future state for a sustainable value chain. Aim to push aside the constraints of your current capabilities and known solutions. As you craft this vision, consider how your company can contribute to upholding the health and resilience of your value chain's social and environmental systems. To bring this vision to life, consider involving other stakeholders, like peers and suppliers. For instance, you can seek their input and endorsements by inviting them to participate in a shared vision development process.

Articulate a credible public position

Demonstrate your commitment to value chain sustainability by publicly articulating your stance on key topics. When creating public position statements, outline the issue and its link to your strategy, then clarify your commitments to it. This requires explaining your understanding of the magnitude of the issue and what is required to address it. This process can foster deeper engagement on sustainability issues, challenge deep-seated assumptions, and help clarify your organisation’s internal understanding of the issue. If you have suppliers who may be impacted by your position, consider consulting with them before making it public. This will foster trust and create a platform for proactive collaboration.

EXAMPLE: Walt Disney Publishes Statement on Uzbek Cotton

In response to reports of widespread forced labour being used to harvest cotton in Uzbekistan, the Walt Disney Company published a statement outlining that it is restricting the use of Uzbek cotton in its supply chain. The statement shares the company’s understanding of the issues and its steps to address them. To read the complete statement, click here.

Develop a strategy with credible goals

Setting credible goals is integral to articulating how your organisation plans to do its part to support environmental and community resilience (see our blog for more details). Since companies have limited control over their value chain, these goals will be based on leveraging your influence. However, you must be careful not to offload the burden of change onto suppliers. Instead, try to see your value chain as an extension of your business and acknowledge your responsibility for addressing the impacts of the goods and services that you use. Your goals, then, should reflect your fair contribution of resources to supporting suppliers in achieving desired sustainability outcomes.1, 2 Additionally, you might encourage suppliers to set their own goals by highlighting the benefits they stand to gain. Where feasible, consider closer collaboration with suppliers to meet shared sustainability goals jointly.

EXAMPLE: Levi Strauss & Co. set contextual water targets at the basin level

LS&Co. conducted life cycle assessments to understand water use in its supply chain and help shape programs to address these impacts. Utilising tools like the WWF Water Risk Filter, LS&Co. identified water risks in its supply chain and categorised suppliers based on local water stress levels. Suppliers in less stressed areas were given efficiency targets, while those in high-stress regions received stricter water use targets, illustrating a contextual water strategy.3

EXAMPLE: Ericsson sends climate action letter to suppliers

Ericsson's climate goal aligns with limiting global warming to 1.5°C as outlined in the Paris Agreement and expects its suppliers to do the same. In a letter to suppliers, the company asked suppliers to set public climate targets of their own and shared resources to get started.4

EXAMPLE: [INDIRECT] HP challenges marketing agencies to diversify their workforce

HP challenged its top five U.S.-based marketing agencies to significantly increase the number of women and minorities working on HP accounts, with particular attention to senior roles.5

Translate commitments into clear priorities and targets

Ensure your sustainable procurement strategy is actionable. To do this, you need to translate your vision, goals, and commitments into clear, specific, and measurable priorities and targets at the category level. You also need to plan regular meetings, set up cross-functional teams, and create training resources to support these priorities and targets. These supporting actions will help foster collaboration, track progress, and adjust strategies. Additionally, it is important to communicate your value chain commitments using accessible language and visuals to aid comprehension and underline their importance.

EXAMPLE: Philips translates sustainable procurement goals into actionable guidelines

Philips has outlined five key themes and criteria6 for European public-sector buyers to consider when purchasing medical equipment and health technology. Aiming to bolster Green Public Procurement (GPP), these guidelines draw from existing standards and Philips' best practices in areas like climate action and circular economy. While no uniform GPP standard exists, Philips believes that clear guidelines can foster systemic change and offer economic and social advantages.7

EXAMPLE: NSG Group’s sustainable supply chain charter

NSG Group released a Sustainability Supply Chain Charter that expresses their vision for collaboration with global suppliers to combat climate change, strive for social equality, and protect worker rights. It identifies eight priority areas of action and clearly outlines principles and requirements for suppliers to meet to align with NSG's commitments.8

Setting a Long-Term Sustainability Vision  cover

Setting a Long-Term Sustainability Vision

This briefing note from the Conference Board of Canada examines leading companies' approach to setting long-term sustainability visions. It offers value chain applicable insights on envisioning desirable future states and how they will be achieved.

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Embedded Strategies for the Sustainability Transition

This guide from the Embedding Project outlines how to take a new approach to corporate strategy.

Prioritise: The section on prioritisation (Pages 36-39) can be applied to procurement. It will help you to determine which sustainability issues are most strategically relevant to your value chain.

Commit: There are two sections relevant to making commitments. First, the Acknowledge section on pages 35-36. It explains how to write effective position statements. Second, the Set Goals section on pages 37-45 describes how to set credible goals.

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Setting Strong Sustainability Goals

This article from the Embedding Project offers a clear explanation of how to set a credible goal that answers the question, what is enough? It covers the seven essential qualities every goal needs to be transparent and effective.

Addressing Scope 3: A Start Here Guide cover

Addressing Scope 3: A Start Here Guide

This guide by the Embedding Project outlines the basics of Scope 3 and how to take credible action.

Identify Impacts: The section on Scope 3 Inventories (pages 22-28) provides guidance on mapping your value chain and conducting your first scope 3 inventory to understand your impacts.

Commit: The section on setting Scope 3 targets (pages 33-35) outlines how to set credible goals that support emissions reductions in your value chain.

Measure: The Data Management and Governance section (pages 28-32) offers insights on how to collect better Scope 3 information from suppliers to measure progress.

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Sustainability Goals Database

Are you designing new goals or interested in benchmarking your goals against leading practice? To help advance progress in setting credible goals, we will maintain a public goals database containing leading sustainability goals and commitments set by large companies globally. Search by issue, company, industry, goal type, or SDG target.

If you are aware of goals that take a credible approach that should be featured in our database, please let us know.

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Developing Position Statements on Sustainability Issues

There is growing pressure among companies to link social and environmental limits to corporate strategy and goal-setting. However, the result is often a lengthy document that fails to make strategic connections between specific issues and their implications on business decision-making. We developed this guidebook to help you articulate a concise and transparent board level position on key environmental, social, and governance issues. Drawing upon in-depth analyses of over 4,000 board position statements; over 200 interviews with CEOs, directors, and board chairs; and concepts outlined in our series on the Road to Context, this guidebook provides a checklist for crafting a contextual board position statement and includes examples from a range of industries and global settings.

The 1.5°C Supplier Engagement Guide cover

The 1.5°C Supplier Engagement Guide

The Exponential Roadmap Initiative aims to bring together innovators and disruptors taking transformative action to reduce emissions in line with the target to limit global heating to 1.5°C.

Support Suppliers (SRM): This guide focuses on how to engage suppliers to accelerate exponential climate action. It is based on best practice and aligned with UN Race to Zero.

Commit: This guide also includes a section on publicly committing to a 1.5°C Supplier target, outlining the why, what, and how, and provides several example commitments.

[PUBLIC] The Procura+ Manual: A Guide to Implementing Sustainable Procurement: Chapter II cover

[PUBLIC] The Procura+ Manual: A Guide to Implementing Sustainable Procurement: Chapter II

This guide by Procura+ provides key insights on implementing sustainable procurement.

Commit: Section 2.3: the Procura + Management Cycle, covers sustainable target setting in procurement on pages 28 to 40.

Support the Strategy: Section 2.1 provides details on how to build the case for sustainable procurement and section 2.2 covers how to gather the necessary internal support to make sustainability procurement successful