Annual Report 2023

Embedding sustainability into supplier selection and support

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  • Case Study
Purchasing decisions and influencing our supply chain are central to our sustainability strategy. This year, we’ve done more to support our suppliers with their decarbonisation and sustainability action.

Setting the scene

Our long-term efforts to decarbonise our own operations mean that the goods and services we buy are now a significant contributor to our overall carbon footprint. To continue making progress as an organisation, we partner with suppliers who share our climate ambitions and want to work with us to ensure the most sustainable outcomes from our spend. 

We’ve seen an increase in the number of our suppliers that would like to commit to Net Zero and set Science Based Target initiative (SBTi) approved targets. We’ve taken steps to understand their challenges through our annual supplier sustainability forum and one-to-one discussions - identifying lack of capacity and knowledge of how to get started as the main barriers for those in the early stages of their sustainability journey.

How we helped

To make it easier for our suppliers to understand our vision and targets across our broad sustainability agenda, we have introduced a new supply chain sustainability framework, which provides a comprehensive overview of our ambition and supplier expectations covering our four priority pillars - Governance, Net Zero (NZ), Nature and Circular Consumption, and Social Impact. 

We have started to embed this new framework throughout the procurement life cycle, from Request For Proposal (RFP), contract clauses, and onboarding, to ongoing engagement and collaboration.

Following a successful pilot in FY22, we also launched a NZ Supplier Springboard this year - a programme for our small to medium suppliers. This specifically seeks to address the two challenges they raised - capacity and knowledge - to support our less mature suppliers kickstart and accelerate their decarbonisation journey, with a view to eventually setting carbon reduction targets aligned with the SBTi. 

As part of this programme, our suppliers had access to net zero training materials, a carbon footprinting tool (pre-paid for a year), and thought leadership materials.

Having one-to-one conversations with our larger suppliers has also been a priority this year so that we can share learnings and where needed support them with measuring their carbon emissions, setting reduction targets, and identifying decarbonisation opportunities.

“We have been working closely with our supplier partners as part of our sustainability journey for the past 15 years. It is only through collaboration that we can meet the challenge of a just and fair transition to a net zero economy. Advocating for and sharing our sustainability knowledge with our stakeholders is central to our broader corporate sustainability strategy.”

Latifa Kapadia
Director of Corporate Sustainability, PwC UK

Making a difference

Our aim is for sustainability to be one of the key areas for our procurement and purchasing decisions. We’re therefore on a multi-year journey of embedding new enhanced sustainability clauses into our key suppliers’ contracts at renewal - these suppliers cover approximately 60-70% of our spend. 

Our free SME support programme was offered to over 100 of our suppliers and covered over 15% of our spend. We were delighted with the feedback, which noted, among other points, suppliers’ appreciation for this proactive support and how helpful they found it in refining their existing plans. One participant reflected: “Thank you once again for the opportunity to join this initiative, really great opportunity and inspiring in your support of our journey to net zero.”

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