Sustainability initiatives ensured 63% of buyers and 71% of suppliers were stronger through the pandemic - survey

Delivering on corporate sustainability goals has shifted to the top of the executive agenda, with 63% of executives now saying it’s very important, compared to only 25% two years ago. This is according to the 2021 Sustainable Procurement Barometer, produced by EcoVadis and the Value Chain Innovation Initiative at Stanford Graduate School of Business.

It found sustainable procurement is key to supply chain resilience with 63% of corporate respondents, and 71% of supplier respondents, reporting that their sustainable procurement initiative helped them endure the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Many feared that the pandemic would negatively impact global sustainability progress. Our research found the opposite to be true – sustainability commitments and investments held steady or increased for 93% organisations,” said Pierre-Francois Thaler, co-founder and co-CEO, EcoVadis.

“As procurement teams look to rebuild, many are realising that strong sustainable procurement practices are essential to bolstering resilience and creating value.” 

While corporate commitments and public pressure have increased globally, delivering on goals – especially in the supply chain – remains a work in progress.

Less than half of supplier respondents believe that the buying organisations they work with are truly engaged in sustainability and actively partner with them to foster sustainability practices in their commercial relationships.

Further, 46% of suppliers said sustainability is important to their customers on paper, but is not reflected in the way they work together.

“At a time when the disruptions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and other disasters have led many companies to shift their focus to building resiliency in their supply chains, this timely report provides practitioners answers to four key questions: what exactly sustainable procurement is, who should be involved, why it should be done and how it can be achieved,” advised Professor Hau Lee, Faculty Codirector, Value Chain Innovation Initiative at Stanford Graduate School of Business.