UK business leaders are increasingly turning their backs on suppliers who fail to align with their social values, according to new research revealed today.
The survey by caterer Sodexo highlights the profound effect the pandemic has had on procurement decisions, with the majority of respondents agreeing that the events of the last year had made it more important to consider environmental and diversity policies when selecting suppliers.
The research shows that, while UK businesses are understandably still placing a greater emphasis on factors such as cost, financial stability and cyber security at the procurement stage, social values are increasingly featuring in the decision-making process.
92% of those polled said they now vet suppliers on their social values and impact, and 75% warn they would be put off by a prospective supplier that did not publish information about their social values.
There is clearly, however, some cynicism around social value with almost three-quarters (73%) of the 250 UK business leaders polled agreeing or strongly agreeing that businesses often have a social value policy in place but don’t necessarily follow it.
This demonstrates the importance of transparent social impact accounting – evidencing and reporting on achievements, according to Sodexo.
Encouragingly, a strong proportion of business leaders who responded to the survey made it clear that they are prepared to offer their suppliers support to help them improve their standing and become more closely aligned with their own social values.
47% said they are providing suppliers with education and training, 41% are providing financial support and 39% offer mentoring.
Sean Haley, UK and Ireland regional chair at Sodexo, said: “It is often said that you can tell a great deal about someone by the company they keep. This is also true for businesses. It is now clear that the ability to demonstrate a positive social impact is a non-negotiable.
“As this research clearly shows, it is a responsibility that extends beyond your own business to the organisations with which you choose to partner. While it can only be seen as a positive step that many businesses are becoming more demanding in areas such as environment and diversity, it is even more heartening to see how many are taking it upon themselves to help their suppliers do better. Business must be purpose-led and capable of directly improving the communities they serve.”
The survey was commissioned to mark the launch of Sodexo’s 2021 social impact pledge, which includes gifting up to 25% of its apprentice levy to SME suppliers enabling them to create 100 new apprenticeships, cutting food waste by 50% across all its sites by 2030, and ensuring 40% of the business’ spend is with SME and VCSE suppliers – above the overnment’s own target of £1 in every £3.