Coro’s Blog: On Purpose

Social Sustainability Roadmap 5th Stop – Supplier Relations

Published on April 9, 2013

A series on CSR as a poverty reduction strategy & social innovation tool

For this stop on the Social Sustainability Roadmap, we’re going shopping. Or to be exact, we will consider how social purchasing can support positive local and global development. Compared to its cousin, green procurement, social purchasing or social procurement is a new kid on the block. As new territory for company buyers, social purchasing is not well-defined. Through work with the BuySmart Network and a number of clients, I have developed a framework for social purchasing that includes:

  • Sourcing from suppliers with good social practices
  • Sourcing from suppliers with social attributes
  • Sourcing products with superior social attributes

Good social practices include:

  • Human rights, labour relations & working conditions
  • Health and safety
  • Living wage
  • Accessibility
  • Social hiring
  • Diversity

Suppliers with social attributes include:

  • Aboriginal
  • Diversity, minority owned
  • Locally owned
  • People with disabilities
  • Women owned
  • Social enterprises
  • Inner-city business
  • Co-operatives

Products with superior social attributes include:

  • Fair trade
  • Universal design
  • Healthy and safe

In addition if you’re interested in metrics that companies use to measure their social sourcing progress, see this research I conducted for a client.

For more information see: Social Purchasing on the Social Sustainability Roadmap.

The Qualities of a Transformational Company

I hope this series of posts has given you an idea of the power that CSR has to address some of the toughest social issues of our time. When used strategically as a tool for social innovation – for doing things differently – CSR can tackle issues such as poverty and create more accessible, inclusive, fair and healthy communities.

As we face dramatic global challenges, companies will realize that not only do they need to adapt to the times, but that they need to play a proactive role to foster a sustainable future. They need to be agents of change, to catalyze social transformation. Through research I did for Canadian Business for Social Responsibility, I identified the qualities of The Transformational Company, and created a tool you can use in tandem with the Social Sustainability Roadmap to activate your social contributions and build your own brand of social innovation.

If your company is interested in funding future development of this work, specifically a guide to the social performance of companies, please contact me at

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