This past Wednesday, the Procurious Big Ideas Summit took place in Chicago where professionals gathered to discuss provocative topics surrounding the procurement space. Speakers gave their insight into popular industry-wide talking points such as cybersecurity and spend management. Justin Crump inspired us with his take on why analyzing data is essential, “The best insight in the world is no good unless someone acts on it” But even more excitingly, these experts brought some new and important social themes to the table.

As a Gen Z-er, my research into procurement tends to focus on the ethics concerns of the space. World issues such as energy conservation, environmental footprints, and healthcare equity commonly come to mind. When it comes to supply chain management, I know we have the power to make a difference so I was thrilled to hear that seasoned procurement experts believe it too. Nearly every presentation at the summit mentioned how procurement could impact the lives of others.
As someone who keeps tabs on corporate news, I’ve noticed an overload of headlines reporting major corruption. It's unsettling to see so many businesses around the globe take a hands-off approach to policing their supply chains.

One of the first presenters, Patrick McCarthy, really emphasized the importance of vetting our suppliers. He drives home the point, “Are you screening your suppliers? And their suppliers? And their suppliers?” Even with the best intentions, a company can’t ensure that all of its operations are clear from crookedness without looking into every third, fourth, and fifth-party supplier. You simply cannot assume your stakeholders take CSR as seriously as you do.

Patrick McCarthy presenting "What's the Big Idea?" at the Procurious Big Ideas Summit.

Keeping your head above water is important, but this space has the power to enforce new ethical standards. McCarthy asserted his belief that the procurement function can truly serve the community while still elevating itself. He stressed to spectators that, contrary to popular belief, doing good doesn’t have to cost more. In many instances, doing good can save the company money. With an innovative rearrangement of suppliers and sourcing, cost-reduction and benevolence can work synchronously.

McCarthy also demonstrated how he’s seen procurement transform a community,

“One of the most exciting things about CSR is that they can change the way communities live. Their sourcing from small communities literally changed the lives of small villages, they were able to build schools, build new infrastructure that changed people's lives.” 

Source One Director, Diego De la Garza, described the experience as a “one-day event that incorporates the content and quality of a big convention” Diego De La Garza dedicated his presentation to discussing everything a well-equipped Procurement team is capable of.

Diego De la Garza of Source One about to present his impactful procurement stories. 
De La Garza shared two powerful stories of procurement innovation. On one account, a company had trouble strategically sourcing the materials they needed for their product. The procurement function worked as a power tool to not only source the right materials from one place but make the product more cost-effective and user-friendly. 

On another account, he discussed a medical tech miracle that a procurement team helped to make happen. The invention involved inserting a microchip into a pill to help patients regulate their prescription intake. Those were just two of many amazing ways Diego had seen procurement demonstrate excellence.

As a young professional navigating the procurement space, it was uplifting to hear these procurement experts speak to the future of the field. Procurement is a department that oversees the entire supply chain and we must be ahead of the game when it comes to social responsibility and sustainability. The thought leaders at the Procurious Big Ideas Summit admirably sparked conversations about procurement’s function in CSR.


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Siara Singleton

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