What does success look like for a well-functioning, forward-thinking procurement function? Achieving cost efficiencies? Working with suppliers to develop high delivery standards? Driving up your company’s sales?

The first two seem clear enough, but a strategic procurement function which is adding value at a higher level of the business also has great potential to drive increases in revenue.

Recent research shows that revenue can be increased by as much as 20% by a company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy. According to this Ipsos Mori poll 74% of consumers believe that a company’s social responsibility contributions influence their decisions on which companies they buy from. It is becoming more and more important in the eyes of consumers to show the connection between your brand and your core purpose.

To tap into this opportunity and show a genuine commitment to social responsibility, the question then becomes – how can our company best leverage its scale to benefit society? One way to look at this is to compare the scale of different budgets. The average CSR budget for a FTSE100 company is only £10m, whilst the procurement function controls a level of spend which runs into the billions for large companies.

The opportunity to use this scale for good lies at the core of the Buy Social Corporate Challenge: an ambitious initiative led by a group of high-profile businesses which are aiming to collectively spend £1 billion with social enterprises. The premise is simple – if businesses need to spend money on products and services, why not spend that money with social enterprises so that it maximises the positive impact on society?

Major retailers are increasingly stocking social enterprise products on their shelves. BecoBrewgooderCafedirectDivine ChocolateLiberation NutsRubies in the Rubble and Toast Ale are all being sold at one or more of the UK’s big 5 supermarkets (Asda, Co-op, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose), giving an indication that the social enterprise model is being embraced by one of our largest sectors.

However this can work in any sector. Any large business can work with B2B social enterprises such as Auticon (IT and compliance services), Inside Job Productions (video production) or Wildhearts(office supplies). These suppliers are delivering a clear positive impact in the community and high-quality products and services. 100% of corporate buyers we surveyed rated SE suppliers as comparable or better than existing suppliers on quality, and in many cases they have been able to beat previous suppliers on cost too.

Find out more

The Buy Social Corporate Challenge launched in 2016 with 7 Founding Partners and now has 16 businesses signed up, and we are keen to open it up to more forward-thinking businesses. We offer a full programme of support, beginning with an initial diagnostic to find the specific opportunities for your company, and through our brokerage, 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.