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Sustainability Pays Off Through the Crisis and Beyond

Sustainability Pays Off Through the Crisis and Beyond

Aug. 10, 2021
71% of suppliers in EcoVadis study said their sustainable procurement initiative helped them endure the COVID-19 pandemic.

While it would seem that the pandemic would negatively impact sustainability progress, that is not the case. In fact, the COVID-19 pandemic has consolidated corporate sustainability goals at the top of the executive agenda, according to the Sustainable Procurement Barometer 2021, developed jointly by EcoVadis and the Value Chain Innovation Initiative at Stanford Graduate School of Business.

The report found that 93% of organizations maintained or increased sustainability commitments during the pandemic. And  63% of corporate respondents, and 71% of supplier respondents, report that their sustainable procurement initiative helped them endure the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, there are still many challenges as only 24% of organizations report externally on supplier sustainability performance (vs. 56% internally). And 32% of companies don’t have any visibility into supply chain sustainability

Other key findings include:

  • Labor and human rights issues shape procurement strategy. In order, procurement organizations are prioritizing labor and human rights issues, followed by the environment, social issues, and business ethics, in their two – three-year strategies. 
  • Procurement is now paying attention to diversity, racism, nondiscrimination, and equity. 61% of procurement leaders say social issues will be “more important” or “significantly more important” over the next two to three years.
  • Sustainable procurement proves key to supply chain resilience. 63% of corporate respondents, and 71% of supplier respondents, report that their sustainable procurement initiative helped them endure the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Sustainability performance is critical for revenue and growth. 69% of respondents are taking sustainability performance into consideration when selecting new suppliers and renewing contracts – up from 51% in 2019.
  • Mid-sized companies (from $100M to $1 Billion in revenue) are embracing sustainability. 48% believe sustainability will have a net positive financial impact on their business, while 47% expect a sustainable approach to lead to improved operational efficiency and lower costs.

“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, in a statment.

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