CPO Perspectives: Implementing Sustainable Procurement in the Americas

WSPD 2023 was SPP’s chance to once again showcase the importance of sustainability and implementing sustainable practices within Procurement to the world.

Gathering CPOs and Thought-Leaders together to share their experience, insights and expertise, SPP kicked off WSPD in each new region with a panel discussion designed to provide a taste of the regional challenges, opportunities and priorities facing procurement professionals today.


WSPD 2023 brought together top CPOs and industry experts from across the globe in a 24-hour-long event, designed to empower and equip Procurement Practitioners with knowledge, best practices, and practical solutions to  Sustainable Procurement challenges that need to be tackled NOW.

Broadcasting in 4 different regions, – APAC, AMESA, Europe/UK & the Americas – each session was curated to address the most prominent regional issues surrounding Sustainability in Procurement.


Check out all of the WSPD 2023 sessions here 


Kickstarting WSPD 2023 in the Americas, regional CPOs and Thought Leaders; 

Nandini Basuthakur (CEO, Procurement Leaders)

And Martha S. Buffington (CPO, SC Johnson)

were invited to participate in the first session of the region ‘CPO Perspectives: Implementing Sustainable Practises in the Americas’, moderated by Caitlyn Lewis (CEO, Supplier Day)

This panel discussion highlighted the challenges, opportunities and priorities facing sustainable procurement practices in the Americas. It was an opportunity for the panellists, as experts and practitioners, to share practical insights into what’s important for the region, what key priorities are for CPOs, and how procurement practitioners can take action today, in their own organisations.


Want to know more about how you can effectively push your sustainability agenda with the help of your suppliers? Book a meeting with our Sales Team today to find out more 


Here are 3 key insights that our speakers provided during the session: 


Procurement’s Increasing Visibility


“94% of CPOs have said that their senior leadership team and CEOs are taking a keener interest in the function” – Nandini Basuthakur


When asked about the importance of sustainability for Procurement, Nandani and Martha both strongly agreed that Sustainability is set to become an integral part of all procurement processes in the future. What is currently seen as an extra step when dealing with suppliers and resources, will eventually become a non-negotiable measure for all organisations and their supply chains.

Martha suggests that as sustainability becomes a more integral part of an organisation’s way of working, it will inevitably become cheaper: “Don’t assume sustainability is more expensive”. This makes it a crucial point for Procurement to hone in on, especially when discussing savings and lowering supplier costs. 

She also reiterates Procurement’s job of bringing “the capabilities of the supply chain to bear for the company”, while actively searching for more sustainable sources and working closely with their suppliers on their sustainability strategies. 

“If you really focus on value and growth and capital efficiency and profit, sustainability isn’t being seen as the most expensive choice, it is the price of doing business” – Nandini Basuthakur


Nandini mirrors this, stating that procurement needs to create  ‘glide paths’ in which Procurement discusses, collaborates and amplifies what is/is not working together across multiple levels of their organisation chain, especially when it comes to achieving sustainability. 

And with “less than a quarter (23%) of [their] respondents” being “on track to meet their scope 3 emissions”, Nandini speaks of the importance of placing achievable goals that “create a realistic path to Net Zero” because “2030 is just not that far away” anymore.

Procurement’s role to help achieve sustainability is steadily growing. According to Martha, “[Procurement] have more of a seat at the table” and can “collaborate really well” with other functions.  From Finance, and Legal to Corporate Sustainability, Procurement plays a central role in collaboration by speaking “the language of the business” and effectively executing the overarching corporate strategies. 

“The great thing about Procurement is we sit in the middle of everything and collaborate with most groups” – Martha Buffington


Collaboration as a Cornerstone 


Suppliers are integral to any organisation’s sustainability efforts and to ensure that their target/initiatives are being effectively executed, Procurement must closely collaborate with their strategic suppliers. 

Nandini describes Collaboration as a “buzzword” which brings “suppliers closer to strategic business initiatives and allows them to be treated as partners” throughout its journey. She goes further to describe how building strong relationships with your suppliers allows Procurement to identify and cope with potential risks across multiple tiers of their supply chain as well as handle other issues, such as logistical, security and inflation, in an effective manner. 

“At a bare minimum, organisations should treat sustainability as a compliance issue” – Caitlyn Lewis


When asked about how Procurement can evaluate/select suppliers and assess supplier performance in tandem with their ESG goals, Martha spoke of adopting a ‘Compliance Mindset’. She explains how organisations with firm sustainability requirements need to ensure that both existing and new suppliers can comply with their sustainability thresholds as well as uphold their supplier code of conduct. But beyond that, procurement needs to collaborate with their suppliers and nurture ”the sustainability of their supply base on an ongoing basis”. 

She also notes that by working with your suppliers to improve their sustainability, everything you buy from them becomes inherently sustainable, minimising complications Procurement can face around having a non-sustainable/non-ESG complaint supplier base.  

Nandini also speaks about how “organisations around the world are working with some of the same suppliers”, making collaboration amongst themselves, and with their value chain “crucial to success” in achieving sustainability. 

“Just be creative when looking for sustainable solutions with your suppliers” – Martha Buffington


Using collaboration as a basis for improving sustainability efforts with their supplier base, organisations need to build momentum with their strategic suppliers and ensure they can achieve sustainability together. 


The Opportunity Technology Offers


“Using technology frees up your people to really have a bigger impact” – Martha Buffington


When asked about the impact of emerging technology, Martha – for whom technology in procurement is a passion point – eagerly expressed the importance of digitalisation within Procurement. 

Stating how technology makes “procurement more efficient and more effective”, she comments on how it frees up procurement professionals to be “more strategic, more innovative, and more focused on relationships.”. The goal is to increase the amount of “value-added work”. 

“Technology is absolutely critical to the future of procurement” Martha states, adding that, in reality, it is the people who will make the most impact. 

When asked about the assessment of different technology solutions and their quality, Martha highlighted the difference between analysing high-level industry data and leveraging your supplier-specific database. The type of technological solution adopted is heavily reliant on the information available and the impact an organisation intends on making. 

However, Martha sums up this debate by mentioning: “you have to walk before you run”, advising companies to start dealing with the higher level data before investing in tools to access the more granular viewpoint. 


Want to know more about how you can effectively push your sustainability agenda with the help of your suppliers? Book a meeting with our Sales Team today to find out more 


Check out the full panel discussion below to hear more of the panellist’s key insights about implementing sustainable procurement in the Americas