6. Adapting your Company’s Business Culture, Processes and Structures

Once you have set up your company’s sustainable sourcing targets in terms of priority raw materials (see Chapter 3) , standards to pursue (see Chapter 4) and ways to integrate these in your firm’s supply chains (see Chapter 5), you need to do some work on adapting your company’s business culture, processes, structures and managerial behaviours to the new tasks ahead.

How can sustainable sourcing best be supported by your company’s culture, structures, processes and managerial behaviours?

Before anything else, make sure that contradictions between sustainability strategies at board and top management level, and real company life on the ground are critically examined and, where needed, adjusted. Are the beliefs expressed by board and top management compatible with the mindsets of the executing managers – generally the procurement managers within the company?

In this chapter, the following six questions will be answered:

  • Are the right corporate culture and value systems in place in order to deliver your strategy?  Corporate culture is the sum total of beliefs and values that affect behaviours of employees. It acts as an important backdrop to which the sustainable sourcing strategy must be anchored.
  • How do you implement sustainable sourcing on an organisational level? A company has to make decisions on a time path and goalposts for the implementation process. Generally, it is advised not to try to implement everything at once, and to follow a carefully planned roll-out process.
  • How do you (re)define responsibilities and tasks relating to sustainable sourcing? Substantial changes may be needed in the sourcing process and the related tasks and responsibilities, and potentially in internal relationships between departments. Traditional corporate social responsibility (CSR) tasks may be partly transferred to operational sourcing and procurement departments, for example.
  • How do you develop the new skills required within the company in order to successfully implement sustainable sourcing? The daily work of the procurement manager will be impacted. New skills will be required. Managers may have to develop informal skills such as conflict resolution, ability to manage dialogue and facilitate stakeholder discussions. Training suppliers, for example, implies a coaching function, and additional auditing skills. These skills may be acquired either by training existing staff or by hiring new people with the requisite skills.
  • How do you reward managers’ efforts and performance with respect to sustainable sourcing? Rewarding managers for their efforts and for their performance in sustainable sourcing will help deliver your company objectives. Make the achievement of specific sustainability targets a part of all personal development objectives, especially management.
  • How do you secure the organisational resources required for sustainable sourcing? Sustainable sourcing may require additional resources, especially in the start-up phase.
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