CSR Excellence : A Selection Criterion for Purchasing Departments

The Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD), which came into force on January 1, 2024, is shaking up the very definition of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in France and beyond.Beyond the compliance constraints of new standards and non-financial reporting, it is also an opportunity for purchasing departments to instill value, transparency, and ethics through the lens of sustainable development. Moreover, the real measure of the importance of CSR is highlighted by its growing weight in supplier selection criteria. Harington, whose CSR policy has been awarded a platinum medal by Ecovadis for the second consecutive year, is a consulting and engineering provider of choice for large companies and listed SMEs concerned by the CSRD. In addition, Harington is referenced as a Top vendor by most of its customers. Recognized among the top 1% of the most virtuous companies in France, Harington is a model of CSR excellence.

To go further in their commitment, Harington Impact is an autonomous dedicated structure that supports IT departments (DSIs) towards better alignment with their company’s CSR policy and more responsible digital practices.

The Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) is an evolution of the previous directive, the Non-Financial Reporting Directive (NFRD). It extends non-financial reporting obligations to all large companies, requiring them to provide detailed information on how their activities affect social and environmental issues. The information must be provided according to stricter reporting standards, with the aim of increasing the consistency and comparability of the reported data.

The CSRD aims to address the shortcomings of the NFRD, such as making reports more accessible and understandable to investors, consumers, and other stakeholders. Companies must prepare for this new reporting requirement, which already calls for more rigorous data collection, in-depth analysis, and the integration of sustainable practices at all levels of the organization.

Harington’s Data practice supports companies in complying with their XBRL reporting through data collection, transformation, and the establishment of ESG reports to ensure they comply with these new requirements in a timely manner.

BPI France Study on the Growing Importance of CSR

According to the BPI France study of January 2023, CSR commitment is gaining ground among clients and suppliers, with 78% of suppliers claiming to be challenged by their clients on the subject, up from 72% in 2020. 73% of clients now integrate CSR clauses into their contracts. This growing trend reflects not only the need for regulatory compliance but also a strategic vision for the future. Far from being a simple label, CSR significantly influences tenders (calls for bids) and purchasing decisions.

It is also a selection criterion in terms of attractiveness and employer branding, particularly among young talents who consider CSR an important factor in choosing their employer.

More than 90% of French companies are committed to or on the point of being committed to responsible purchasing practices, a trend highlighted by the 14th ObsAR barometer. Indeed, sustainability and CSR have become top priorities, as illustrated by Gartner’s annual study which revealed a historic shift in the perception of sustainability by CEOs and senior executives worldwide.

The Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) is a major change for Purchasing Departments, prompting them to reassess and strengthen their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategies. To meet these new challenges and increased regulatory requirements, Purchasing Departments are organizing themselves:

  1. Assessment and training: Purchasing Departments must first assess their current level of compliance and ensure that their team has the necessary knowledge of the CSRD. Ongoing training on the latest regulations and best practices is essential.
  2. Data collection and analysis: Identify the relevant data that needs to be collected for reporting. This includes information on CO2 emissions, data center energy consumption, IT hardware sustainability, product and service lifecycle tracking and extension, electronic waste recycling and recovery, but also eco-design and resource consumption optimization, the social impact of innovations such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) with ethical consideration during their deployment (…).
  3. Internal and external collaboration: Work closely with internal departments (finance, IT, CSR) for an integrated vision and with suppliers to ensure that they are also compliant with CSRD standards.
  4. Integration of CSR criteria into tenders (calls for bids): Modify the tender process to include sustainability criteria,ensuring that suppliers align their practices with the company’s CSR values.
  5. Continuous monitoring and improvement: Implement mechanisms for continuous monitoring of suppliers’ CSR performance and encourage continuous improvement through strategic partnerships.

The CSRD emphasizes the importance of a more strategic approach to CSR in purchasing decisions. Purchasing Departments must now prioritize the acquisition of intellectual services not only on the basis of cost and quality, but also taking into account their environmental and social impact. This includes evaluating suppliers’ CSR performance, integrating sustainability criteria into tenders, and collaborating with partners who share similar sustainability values.

63% of suppliers see CSR as an opportunity to improve their offerings and processes, while 58% would consider certification even without customer pressure. Harington had the early conviction that CSR is a reflection of a company’s awareness of its environmental, regulatory, and economic impact. Harington has embarked on a voluntary policy since 2019 which was awarded a silver label by EcoVadis in 2020, Gold in 2021 and Platinum since.

CSR is indeed an opportunity for mutual reinforcement and common commitment to a more sustainable and responsible future. It is also an opportunity for companies to demonstrate their commitment and adopt a more integrated approach to overall performance.

Beyond compliance with standards, Harington Impact strives to reconcile digital technology and CSR as well as innovation and responsibility. Harington Impact supports CIOs towards better alignment with their company’s CSR policy but also in the adoption of eco-responsible IT practices. Harington Impact shares its expertise and resources to project companies towards a responsible digital future.

The integration of CSR into purchasing processes is no longer an option, but a strategic necessity imposed by the CSRD. For Purchasing Departments, it is about seizing the opportunity to be at the forefront of change, to add value to their business and to act as drivers of sustainable development in their respective sectors. The CSRD is not just a regulatory constraint; it is a call to action for Purchasing Departments to become leaders in creating a sustainable and responsible future.With the CSRD directive which redefines the selection criteria for Purchasing Departments and the growing importance of CSR, Harington is establishing itself as the preferred partner for any company seeking CSR excellence. In these times of digital transformation, choosing a partner like Harington means opting for a sustainable and responsible approach, ensuring overall performance aligned with the values of today and tomorrow.

Are you looking for an exemplary supplier? Do you need support in aligning your IT department with your company’s CSR policy?

We offer services in the form of one-off missions, technical assistance, fixed-price contracts, or fixed-price contracts with strong commitments in terms of deadlines and budget.