What will procurement look like in 2030? An intriguing question and one which we now have an answer to, thanks to a recent report by Procurious. One of the report’s central findings is that the core purpose of procurement is expected to change, with supplier innovation and sustainability replacing cost reduction and risk management as the core purpose areas of procurement.

A bold prediction, but there are plenty of push factors out there that help to explain how such a change may come about. Ultimately, these factors show that a more assertive and strategic procurement function has the potential to drive increases in revenue as well as reductions in cost.

One of the push factors is the link between sustainability and employee engagement. In today’s competitive labour market the way you do business makes a big difference in attracting, retaining and engaging the talent you need. There have been numerous studies looking at the attitudes and priorities of younger people in the workforce – one of them found that 75% of millennials would take a pay cut to work for a more responsible company. Another report shows that 82% of millennials whose current organisation’s values align with their own stay with that organisation for more than five years.

Being a responsible company is a full-time activity though and needs to be embedded in core operations. The considerable purchasing power of large companies provides a great opportunity to show your sustainability credentials and create long-term value for society.

Johnson & Johnson has a strong commitment to directing a significant proportion of its procurement spend to social enterprise suppliers. Mark Hicken is the MD of Janssen UK & Ireland (a Johnson & Johnson company) and he acknowledges that he is asked very often by colleagues “Which social enterprises are we working with? What difference are we making? Why don’t we do more?”

Procurement teams can engage with social enterprises delivering a very wide range of products and services, from catering, cleaning and crewing to washroom products, website development and workwear.

But as we’re looking at employee engagement, let’s look at social enterprises working in HR. Employers for Childcare is the UK’s only social enterprise childcare voucher scheme. Rightsteps(delivered by Turning Point) gives businesses access to a range of health and wellbeing solutions to support their employees. From Babies With Love has a parental leave gifting service, described by one Managing Partner at Deloitte as “probably the single most engaging thing that we do for our people.”

The best part of all is that you can ensure society gains from your spend and make your workforce feel genuinely good about the company they work for by simply leveraging existing spend. The decision to ‘buy social’ means society benefits while you are sourcing the everyday products and services your business needs.

Here at Social Enterprise UK we created the Buy Social Corporate Challenge to make buying social as easy and impactful as possible for businesses that wanted to use their scale for good. We launched in 2016 with 7 Founding Partners and now have 16 businesses signed up, and we are keen to open it up to more forward-thinking businesses. We have a broad range of industries represented and it is clear that ‘buying social’ works for any large business.

There is no such thing as not being ready for this, as our programme takes you from the basics of learning about what social enterprises do and an initial review of your supply chain through to our brokerage service to recommend suppliers for each opportunity. Along with our comms support and impact reporting you will soon see innovative, high-quality social enterprise suppliers in your supply chain.

To find out more about how the Buy Social Corporate Challenge could support your business, email Andy.Daly@socialenterprise.org.uk.