• Federica Suess

Why do buyers show resistance to CSR-topics?

In this CSR Talk#1, we explore a question that we often receive from clients and that we have experienced ourselves as well: Resistance from buyers towards CSR-topics, in particular Codes of Conducts and the work that goes alongside.

Why is that?

We believe that it could be due to the following reasons:

  • Buyers don’t understand the value of a code of conduct: Codes of conducts are often introduced to companies by clients or investors and are not created from within, thus buyers lack “ownership”, a key principle in sustainability.

  • Increased workload: Buyers have a stressful and demanding job and now they have to also perform additional CSR-related-tasks, such as sending the code of conduct to suppliers, getting it signed, organize social audits, reading audit reports, etc.

  • Lack of competence: How many buyers have been properly trained on the elements of a Code of Conduct? And with "properly" I don't mean conducting a 1-day training where abstract concepts are discussed. I mean more an interactive recurring workshop where questions are discussed such as "How to deal with a bad performing supplier?" "How to convince a supplier of social audits" "How to deal with a child labor case" "How to deal with freedom of association in China?". I believe that lack of competence can lead to resistance.

So what can we do as CSR-managers?

Genuinely engage with buyers

  • Genuine engagement means to really listen, understand the concerns, fears and frustrations and also being able to modify your own plans according to that engagement process. It is not easy, but the only way forward.:)

Showcase the benefits

  • What are the actual benefits for the company and the buyers themselves resulting from implementing a Code of Conduct? If we can not articulate the benefits, then maybe the topics are not so important after all?! (We want to challenge you here)

Equip buyers with skills and knowledge on CSR-topics

  • Buyers need to be equipped with the right skill set to handle this new task with confidence and with ease. Spend time on the content of the Code of Conduct, discuss what the points mean in practice so that buyers can be fully on board with the new task.

We hope that our advice can be valuable for you!

Federica & Veronica

For the full discussion, watch our CSR Talk #1 below:

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