Since 2014, the number of companies engaging suppliers as part of their climate strategy has increased from 24% to 43% (CDP, 2021). Whilst an encouraging improvement, it still means that most businesses are not engaging with the part of their value chain that accounts for the largest part of environmental impact.
The not-for-profit disclosure platform, CDP, has performed extensive research on the topic and believes that the barriers to businesses engaging with their suppliers are:
- lack of best-practice knowledge; and
- lack of opportunities for recognition
In response to this feedback, the CDP launched the Supplier Engagement Rating (SER) in 2016. All disclosing organisations are scored against this additional set of criteria to increase awareness of the opportunities that supplier engagement presents. Furthermore, disclosing organisations cannot achieve more than a D grade in their CDP climate change disclosure unless they engage with suppliers.
As with much of the CDP's questionnaire guidance, the SER methodology can feel overwhelming and impenetrable. However, there are some key principles that - if followed - will result in a high SER whilst positively impacting the success of any supply chain sustainability strategy.
|Scope 3 emissions
|Overall CDP climate change performance
Whilst the SER goes a long way toward recognising those companies that are putting supplier engagement at the heart of their approach to becoming a more sustainable and responsible business, it still leaves a lot to the imagination. For example, what does it mean to "engage with suppliers"? What are some proven ways to engage suppliers with a sustainability program?
If you'd like to learn more about how to develop a supplier engagement strategy and the most effective supplier engagement tactics, visit our "Complete guide to supplier engagement" page.