If one thing has become apparent from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is the value of supply chains. With such massive disruption to shipping routes, air freight, and land transport, businesses are taking into greater consideration than ever before what they are buying, who they are buying it from and how sustainable that chain is.
Coupled with society’s growing concerns and appreciation for the environment, businesses are finding that consumers are increasingly choosing the services of businesses that can demonstrate a minimalist carbon footprint, representative of humane values and have ecologically sound practices.
As a global leader in the provision of facility management, project delivery, energy and sustainability, BGIS has launched a sustainable procurement policy for the APAC region in alignment with the International Organisation for Standardisation 20400 (ISO 20400).
“The good news is that rather than being a roadblock to achieving business objectives, sustainable procurement can contribute by increasing reputation and brand recognition, as well as effecting revenue growth, improved consumer confidence and better supplier relationships,” says Brian Peirce, Director Of Procurement & Digital FM - Asia Pacific.
What is ISO 20400?
Generally speaking, ‘sustainable procurement’ is a growing focus among the world’s leading organisations where the businesses take into account the environmental and ecological impacts of purchasing supplies and services, while also considering the business’ needs.
Businesses are no longer viewing themselves as islands, but part of a larger ecosystem and considering the global impact of their decisions.
By choosing suppliers whose working conditions for employees are decent, products are environmentally sustainable, and services improve socio-economic issues (inequality, poverty etc), businesses of all sizes are making a collective difference for the better toward our global future.
Funded and managed by Action Sustainability Community Interest Company Ltd – a social enterprise in the United Kingdom, ISO 20400 is an international best practice sustainable procurement framework to help businesses and governments self-assess and implement sustainable procurement.
After four years of round table discussions, research, and consulting, ISO 20400 was launched in April of 2017, as a not-for-profit and free platform for businesses to access. At the time of launching, ISO 20400 had more than 160 national standards bodies across the world signed as members.
In 2020, BGIS was one of the first businesses in the Asia-Pacific region to launch a sustainable procurement policy in alignment with ISO 20400.
“While BGIS always had robust sustainable procurement inclusions in our pre-existing procurement policy, over recent years our organisation had matured in its adoption of broader sustainable procurement practices,” said Mr Peirce.
“We had rapidly expanded our engagement of diverse supplier enterprises, invested in systems to safely manage our supplier labour force and made significant progress in mitigating modern slavery in our supply chains. With the release of ISO 20400, we saw great alignment with our own established operating practices and felt that we could be an early adopter of its core objectives.”
Implementing sustainable procurement
Whether it is considered ignorance of a generation or willful disregard, many businesses across the world have a track record of using standards of procurement, by what would be considered today as abhorrent.
While some businesses may consider it good enough to not be doing the wrong thing, companies like BGIS are stepping up to the plate, and actively doing the right thing and creating a future that the next generations can build upon - rather than correcting.
“Throughout 2020, we provided opportunities for 24 Supply Nation-certified members and increased our Indigenous spend by almost 60 per cent year-on-year. This places us well above the Australian national average, with an Indigenous spend 3.3 times greater than the facilities management industry average. In terms of successful outcomes resulting from the sustainable procurement policy, this is certainly one our proudest so far,” said Mr Peirce.
BGIS regularly measures its performance in sustainable procurement against key metrics, with outcomes shared publicly in its annual Corporate Social Responsibility Report.
“For BGIS, we pride ourselves on being a leader in our industry when it comes to corporate social responsibility. Developing a sustainable procurement policy and framework in alignment with ISO 20400 has enabled us to truly demonstrate leadership in this area to clients, suppliers and business partners.”
Before implementing the guidelines provided by ISO 20400, businesses are urged to examine four key areas of their current procurement process:
1. Examine ‘buying culture’
Businesses need to ask themselves:
- How do you buy goods and services?
- Who do you buy from?
- How much control do you have over your suppliers’ risks?
- Are your demands of your suppliers realistic?
2. Know your supply chain
Evaluate the cost of the supply chain in your organisation. What proportion of your revenue goes towards paying suppliers? Do you know their societal and environmental impact?
3. Think strategically
Consider the risks and opportunities of working more closely with your main suppliers – across the whole life cycle.
4. Get buy-in from top management
Ensure key decision-makers and influencers are on board and aware of the benefits, opportunities and possible consequences of implementing sustainable procurement.
To date, ISO has published more than 21,500 International Standards and related documents covering almost every industry across the globe, including technology, food safety, agriculture, tourism and healthcare.
All this information and more is available at ISO20400.org.
Learn more about BGIS at www.apac.bgis.com.