Tips on how to ensure fairness in practice
At first glance, procurement might seem like a technical concept that represents a systematic and continuous activity aimed at delivering goods, services, or work from a supplier (often via a tendering or bidding process), to a customer, for an agreed-upon price.
However, you may be surprised to learn that such a seemingly dull, routine and bureaucratic operation, actually serves as a strong basis for implementing organizational values that aim to do good.
Before you go for the regular criteria – price, quantity, quality, and the right time and supplier – there are a few value pitfalls and hurdles to navigate in order to ensure an honest and diversified procurement process.
Here are some tips that will help you on your path to success:
- Save the environment – while purchasing goods and services, try to focus on multi-purpose, high-quality products that place an emphasis on durability and longevity. By doing so, you can both reduce your environmental impact and convey an internal message among your employees about the organization’s strong commitment to promoting the value of sustainability.
- Focus on what you have – establish a team of experts to look at the potential waste in your organization as a future raw material, thereby turning garbage into cash and saving millions of dollars every year, just like Procter & Gamble, the world's largest consumer goods firm, does. Today, 99% of all materials entering P&G’s plants leave as either finished products or end up being reused. For example, toilet paper pulp, in a factory in Mexico, is being recycled and used as an important component in insulated rooflines; the remains of baby wipes are being turned into filling material for sofas, and shampoo pulp is being mixed with charcoal ash to make bricks. There is an abundance in the world; it just needs to be used wisely.
- Be proactive – within a passive procurement concept, it is customary to think that suppliers who are good should be treated equally, without discrimination. But an organization that wants to promote a diverse and inclusive workplace needs to understand that even though we are all equal, we are not all the same, and as such, make the organizational adjustments needed to assist supplier diversity in accordance with social criteria such as the employment of underrepresented groups, and the procurement of goods from small and medium-sized businesses, as well as from businesses located in peripheral and remote areas – all based on the values of “together we are one” and “adding value to humanity”.
- Act with integrity – provide information directly, transparently and authentically, in a way that reinforces your suppliers’ and customers’ confidence in your organization. A pure intention leads to a pure thought, which in turn encourages pure actions that ultimately lead to the best results and outcomes.
- Developing smart connections and using them properly can also be instrumental in achieving financial freedom. It's a well-known fact today that procurement is one of the most frequently-recurring functions in the organization. Leverage the business relationships you have established to reduce operational costs by contacting various entities in order to obtain a concentrated amount or a purchase discount such as an agreement to reduce pension fund management fees, as well as benefits related to cultural events, restaurants, resorts, etc.
- Words speak louder than numbers – understandably, you are in a constant pursuit for increased profitability through cost reduction, but you mustn’t forget that we are human beings, not machines. Try talking about what you have, not what you don't. Stick to positive terms and direct a positive language and communication frequency towards the creation of an empowering, accepting and constructive discourse that establishes trust and achieves long-term mutual success.
The examples above strongly prove that procurement and values are not two opposites, but rather interact and complement each other in an optimal manner – because doing good is also good for business!
“Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of another, always at the same time as an end and never simply as a means”. (Immanuel Kant)