Leading with a Sustainable Purpose

Leading with a Sustainable Purpose

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Will your procurement purpose and strategy navigate disruption in 2021? How will Chief Procurement Officers, procurement leaders and suppliers realise this purpose? 

How will companies emerge from the pandemic? They face other systemic challenges, including the climate and biodiversity crises and growing inequality that are profoundly reshaping the strategic landscape. Stakeholders increasingly want to know how companies and their supply chain are positively contributing.

There is growing evidence that businesses and procurement teams that align their purpose and strategy with the transition to a sustainable economy create sources of competitive advantage by:

    • Using the company’s core capabilities to access or create new and growing markets
    • Driving product and service innovation that meet stakeholder needs and expectations
    • Attracting and motivating talented employees
    • Identifying and creating delivery partnerships


4 leading businesses (Jeff Turner, Inge Massen-Biemans at DSM, Pia Heidenmark Cook at IKEA, Erin Meezan at Interface and Rebecca Marmot at Unilever) used 10 principles and over 50 practices to align their purpose and strategy with a sustainable economy.

10 principles emerged as central to developing and integrating a sustainable purpose


  1. Take an ‘outside-in’ view that engages external stakeholders and suppliers throughout the supply chain
  2. Take an ‘inside-out’ view that engages employees across the complete supply chain, influencing demand as well as supply
  3. Engage the Board to align purpose and strategy and broaden ownership, including procurement leaders to also engage supplier’s executive leadership teams and direction
  4. Integrate the purpose into strategies and objective-setting. A deliberate reset of procurement objectives
  5. Align rewards and incentives. Recognise and celebrate procurement’s achievements
  6. Integrate the purpose into core business practices, enabled through digital procurement
  7. Build the capacity and capability of employees and a mindset shift
  8. Select and build external partnerships and advocacy and make them deliver impact
  9. Integrate the purpose into metrics and external disclosure
  10. Integrate the purpose into corporate positioning and communications strategy.


For more, contact Ben Kellard Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL).

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