Cooperation and partnership
Here, you can get inspiration for how to cooperate with your suppliers on improving suppliers' CSR performance.
Share knowledge with your suppliers
You can help supplier to improve their CSR performance by sharing your knowledge and experience.
The progress and anchoring of your CSR efforts will be enhanced if you have the opportunity and resources to contribute to developing your suppliers' competences. Not all suppliers have the necessary knowledge and resources to improve their CSR performance and establish the processes required through their own efforts alone.
Sharing knowledge and changing attitudes can be part of your ongoing dialogue with your suppliers, including visits to suppliers, but you can also hold supplier workshops or similar training initiatives for your suppliers. You can share your knowledge and experience by formulating policies, establishing and anchoring processes and handling complaints, etc. But it can also be interesting for suppliers to hear about your experience with improvements to actual CSR performance, such as environmental or health and safety improvements.
Usually it will increase the supplier’s commitment if you openly describe your own CSR activities and the challenges you face. This can make it easier for your suppliers to understand what you expect of them. Your suppliers will also typically be more interested in and committed to making an effort themselves if they know that you have undertaken the same activities in your own company.
If you have several suppliers in the same area, you might consider inviting all of your suppliers to the same workshop. If you do not have the resources to hold your own workshops, you might consider joining forces with other companies in the industry, or other companies that are active in the same local area, in order to arrange joint training opportunities.
Read the case about Rice - an example of a company that helps to build up its supplier's competences via supplier visits and training programmes.
Consider offering financial assistance
You might consider whether it would be an advantage for you to invest in improving suppliers' CSR performance.
Even though the requirements you make of your suppliers' policies and processes are in line with the international expectations made of all companies, you may find that some suppliers expect you to contribute financially to improving their CSR performance.
You should consider whether - and if so, how - you wish to contribute financially if a supplier itself does not have the financial resources required to comply with CSR requirements. You might, for example, offer financial support by paying some of the costs of concrete improvement measures, or by offering loans on favourable terms.
Read the case about Mater - an example of a company that offers its suppliers loans and pays a small surcharge on each item until the loan has been paid off.
Assess partnership opportunities
You can consider whether it would be advantageous to establish a partnership that is also a commercial development opportunity.
Your suppliers' CSR improvements can help to develop your own business and create new market opportunities. You might therefore consider the establishment of partnerships with key suppliers whereby you cooperate on developing more sustainable products and production methods. These might include reducing energy consumption and thereby the products' carbon footprint, replacing hazardous substances with environmentally-friendly alternatives, or converting to organic farming, etc.
Partnerships may be resource-intensive, however, so that you should investigate opportunities for support from the Royal Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs' "Danida Business Partnerships" programme. This programme supports partnerships to promote sustainable innovation in developing countries.
Read the case about Solhjulet - an example of a company that has established a partnership with a supplier in Uganda, with support from Danida.