By Victoria Folbigg, VP Procurement

The United Nations marked a milestone 75th anniversary last year, with a call to focus on global cooperation in building the future we want. I believe the world has made some headway with shaping this future, particularly with the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals in 2016.

Companies have started to think critically about how to integrate Sustainability throughout their supply chain and are focusing on Sustainable Procurement. This is defined as the acquirement practices that strive to have a positive environmental, social and economic impact across the purchasing and supply management lifecycle. It means adopting production and consumption practices that anticipate and account for future business and environmental needs.

As a leading healthcare services company in Asia, Zuellig Pharma procurement and supplier facing teams are guided by the principles of Sustainability during the supplier selection and management activities, which helps us to keep making healthcare accessible in the long run.

Sustainable Procurement at Zuellig Pharma

Our procurement and supplier facing teams work with over 6,000 suppliers across 13 markets in Asia and aim to educate our suppliers on the need for Sustainability while promoting supplier sustainability best practices, diversity, and inclusion. We are meeting and surpassing globally-recognised benchmarks not just for compliance but with an enthusiasm for what they represent: excellence in ethical and sustainable healthcare delivery and support for the communities we work with.

The pandemic has brought home the importance of ensuring resilient, responsible and future-ready supply chains to serve the pressing needs of our communities. Zuellig Pharma procurement and supplier facing teams are actively collaborating with our suppliers to build stronger partnerships and empowering them to carve out their Sustainability journeys, regardless of which stage they are at.  
Inaugural Supplier Sustainability Awards Ceremony

Late last year we held our first Supplier Sustainability Awards Ceremony to recognise suppliers who have excelled in bringing Sustainability practices to our businesses and to celebrate our meaningful partnerships with them. The ceremony saw more than 300 participants.

We held interactive panel discussions with our top three winners – Green Value, va-Q-tec, and MSpectrum, Inc. and with our leadership team to discuss the importance of supply chain sustainability, share about inspirational sustainability projects that we could learn from, and commend the teams that made an impact last year.

We are encouraged by the positive feedback received from participants, setting the stage for future ceremonies to recognise even more efforts towards sustainability.

Training with the Accelerate Sustainable Procurement in ASEAN Pledge (ASAP) and United Nations Global Compact (UNGC)

With the impact of COVID-19, businesses are now acutely aware of the importance of building sustainable businesses. We see great opportunities to support our suppliers in their journey towards Sustainability.

During the Awards Ceremony, we took the time to hold interview-style training sessions with guest speakers from the local networks of UNGC and ASAP to provide pragmatic information to support our suppliers in their sustainability endeavours.

The sessions focused on how suppliers can take steps to embrace sustainability by simply starting with the mindset to change. Whether they are small-and-medium companies or large corporations at different stages of their journeys, they can start where they are and learn current best practices to be ready for upcoming challenges. Some suggestions from the UNGC include looking at trending recovery pathways such as energy efficiency and incorporating Sustainability in corporate strategy to create business value.

Alongside these efforts, we have rolled out our Supplier Code of Conduct, Supplier Sustainability Assessment Questionnaire and our Supplier Sustainability Development Programme, which provide essential guidelines to understand our standards, expectations and individual responsibilities, as well as support that can be provided.

What lies ahead

It is important to recognise that sustainable procurement is a journey. Zuellig Pharma has a vision of where we need to get to and an action plan to do so. Every day we are teaching ourselves and our supply base about the importance and advantages of Sustainability. This process involves prioritising the highest risk factors and areas of greatest impact.

Our progress has been extremely exciting, and I am personally looking forward to continuing on our path of growing and empowering local communities through Sustainable Procurement.