The concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has increasingly been making its way into the zeitgeist of good corporate practice for years; many companies are increasingly aware of their participation and response to social issues and are looking at ways to improve their charitable contributions while empowering their employees to participate in volunteer opportunities. Customers are paying closer attention to company values when making purchasing decisions, and employees are also looking to their employers for actionable responses to social issues such as racial equity, diversity and inclusion. For companies who are trying to increase their participation in this space, it can be difficult to understand where to start and where to allocate resources. This is where companies can lean on procurement as an unexpected ally (pun very much intended). By working with procurement teams, companies can carefully source external resources that can help to achieve CSR related initiatives.


Many 3rd party organizations exist that provide both strategy consulting for creating CSR programs, as well as technology solutions through which employees can donate money or sign up for volunteering events. These platforms can also document and report on individual and corporate-wide participation to help track performance against CSR goals. These are services that companies - particularly those who are still new to the CSR concept - may not be familiar with and can act as a conduit between volunteer opportunities and employees looking for ways to get involved.


When looking for external resources, procurement can help to document your organizational needs and ensure that solutions align with your priorities. For example, many companies are focused on diversity & inclusion initiatives related to race, sexual orientation, and gender identity. But CSR initiatives can also be focused on environmental protection, education development, addressing homelessness, or a combination of many other examples. When running a sourcing event for CSR services, sourcing teams can award business to companies with expertise or insight into those identified organizational prioirities. This does not preclude you from participating in other volunteer opportunities outside of those identified initiatives, but it does help highlight initiatives that align with your organization's culture and priorities. Importantly, utilizing these services does not prevent you from establishing your own direct non-profit relationships - it can simply supplement your existing offerings and make it easier for employees to connect with company sponsored events.


While we may not like to think of CSR as an industry, there are a multitude of external resources that can help guide and govern your organizations efforts to improve your CSR strategy. Procurement can be the vehicle to help document organizational needs, scope out external services, compare offerings across multiple providers, and negotiate both price and services to align with your organization's budget and requirements. CSR is a culture, and sourcing can help drive that culture and promote participation by finding the right partner. But finding the right partner is key to making impactful contributions in this space, and working with experienced sourcing professionals like Corcentric can help ensure a successful CSR implementation.

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Ian Boyd

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