SPONSORED CONTENT: It is often said that you can tell a great deal about someone by the company they keep. This is also true for businesses. It is now clear that the ability to demonstrate a positive social impact is a non-negotiable.
According to new research, UK business leaders are increasingly turning their backs on suppliers who fail to align with their social values.
Research carried out by Opinium to mark the launch of Sodexo’s Social Impact Pledge 2021 has highlighted the profound effect the pandemic has had on procurement decisions, with the majority of respondents agreeing that the events of the last year had made it more important to consider environmental and diversity policies when selecting suppliers.
The results also show that, while UK businesses are understandably still placing a greater emphasis on factors such as cost, financial stability and cyber security at the procurement stage, social values are increasingly featuring in the decision-making process.
Two thirds (66%) stated that over the last year they have already started replacing suppliers that don’t live up to their diversity and inclusion values and 71% believe that their customers care about their supply chain.
92% of those polled said they now vet suppliers on their social values and impact, and 75% warn they would be put off by a prospective supplier that did not publish information about their social values.
There is clearly, however, some cynicism around social value with almost three-quarters (73%) of the 250 UK business leaders polled agreeing or strongly agreeing that businesses often have a social value policy in place but don’t necessarily follow it. This demonstrates the importance of transparent social impact accounting – evidencing and reporting on achievements.
Supporting SMEs in the supply chain
The Government pledged that £1 in every £3 will be spent with SMEs by 2020, and this latest research shows that the private sector is also taking steps in this direction, with the events of the last year appearing to accelerate the process.
At Sodexo we have committed to ensuring that 40% of all our supplier spend will go to SME businesses and have taken steps to ensure we are accessible to smaller organisations. These include signing up to the Prompt Payment Code and continuing to run a Supply Chain Inclusion Programme which launched in 2015.
The Opinium research reveals that 66% of UK business leaders say they are increasingly using small and medium sized suppliers and encouragingly, a strong proportion made it clear that they are prepared to offer their suppliers support to help them improve their standing and become more closely aligned with their own social values. 47% said they are providing suppliers with education and training, 41% are providing financial support and 39% offer mentoring.
With scope 3 emissions coming under ever greater scrutiny, it is natural that organisations are increasingly looking to their supply chain to deliver on environmental targets which support their own goals.
On the whole this research indicates UK business is moving in the right direction, with 65% revealing that they have said goodbye to organisations in their supply chain that do not align with their own environmental policies and 40% saying they are partnering with suppliers on initiatives which support carbon footprint reduction.
This is an area which Sodexo takes seriously, and we have been supporting our suppliers in trialling new concepts and ways of working as well as collaborating with them to optimise delivery frequency and efficiency to help reduce their carbon emissions.
As this research clearly shows, organisations that fail to impress on policies around the environment and diversity are at greatest risk and it is a responsibility that extends beyond your own business to the organisations with which you choose to partner.
While it can only be seen as a positive step that many businesses are becoming more demanding in areas such as environment and diversity, it is even more heartening to see how many are taking it upon themselves to help their suppliers do better.
Business must be purpose-led and capable of directly improving the communities they serve.
Read more about Sodexo’s Social Impact Pledge 2021 here.