The Procurement Alliance Boosting Hospitality Sustainability

The procurement alliance boosting hospitality sustainability
Some of the Biggest Hospitality Companies, Have Joined Forces With Procurement Solutions Experts to Form an Alliance for the Good of Responsible Sourcing

The Hospitality Alliance for Responsible Procurement (HARP) is an EcoVadis-powered sector initiative by a group of international hospitality companies and their key Global Procurement Organisations: Accor, Hilton, IHG Hotels & Resorts, Marriott International, Radisson Hotel Group, Avendra and Entegra.

“By joining forces, enabling more strategic focus and sharing best practices, HARP members and their suppliers can focus on positive outcomes that help pave the way towards their sustainability targets,” explains Richard Eyram, Chief Customer Officer at EcoVadis. 

“By joining HARP, leading hospitality organisations across the world seek to do exactly that: to maximise their collective effort to accelerate sustainable practices by fostering close collaboration with their trading partners to build transparency and scale positive impact across their value chains,” he adds.

Accelerating positive impact

The central focus of the alliance is to accelerate positive impacts across the industry by improving supplier sustainability performance. This is done with Eco-Vadis acting as the alliance co-ordinator with a governance structure overseen by each member’s Chief Procurement Officer. They also develop specific working groups for particular sustainable procurement issues to help accelerate action as a collective force. HARP was created as a new way of measuring and improving supply chain sustainability performance, using EcoVadis’ sustainability rating data pools to create shared evaluation methodologies, empowering the companies involved to interact with their key suppliers, and facilitating the exchange of expertise to help with a unified drive towards best practices. 

For organisations that are traditionally in fierce global competition for guests, it is a significant achievement to ally with each other for the benefit of sustainable and responsible procurement. For the founding members, the appeal of membership is the knowledge they are able to achieve something far greater as a unified force without impacting on their own business objectives. 

“Other industries and sector initiatives have proven that impact is far greater when peers collaborate to achieve a common goal and see success happen at a more rapid pace,” says Stéphane Masson, SVP Global Procurement ar Marriott International. “The climate challenges we are facing as a planet need urgent attention, resources and solutions. Working together as an industry provides all these components and allows us to see things from new perspectives, provide new ideas, and push our industry to do more collectively,” he adds.

Sopan Shah, SVP, Chief Procurement Officer at IHG agrees, as using a shared pool of suppliers who are rated through the EcoVadis ecosystem using anonymous contributed member data, has been a significant early achievement. Asked why it’s important for global sector leaders to focus on the project he says “Principally to build transparency and potentially scale positive impacts across the supply chain, the HARP initiative can also help to accelerate suppliers’ sustainability practices, understanding, and maturity over time.”

“We recognise the potential environmental and social impact of our supply chain, so we endeavour to work with suppliers who not only meet our sustainability aspirations, but also share the same values that underpin our responsible business plan. By leveraging the data and other resources available from HARP, to understand suppliers’ sustainability performance, we see huge potential to effect change,” he adds.

Early alliance achievements 

Since the launch of the alliance, the seven founding members have invited more than 2,000 suppliers with many more planned to be engaged in 2024. Even in the early days of the project, the footprint has been vast as the alliance represents 28,000 properties around the world, 4.3 million rooms, and over 1.2 million employees. These are all achievements to be celebrated, along with the very fact that so many global sector leaders have pooled their collective resources for the good of sustainable procurement. “Joining forces may not only be an accelerator but vital for sustainable supply chain transformation in hospitality,” explains Richard Eyram, Chief Customer Officer at EcoVadis. “If suppliers receive a common message from the key industry players to which they provide their products and services, this engagement process on transparency and improvement actions will be far more streamlined.”

Paul McArdle the Global Chief Operating Officer at Entegra agrees, saying it sends a clear signal to procurement partners of the progress and standards expected. “With so many global hospitality companies and their procurement partners joining forces, we’re able to send a cohesive message to the industry and accelerate the adoption of sustainable practices across the supply chain,” he adds. “This is more than lip service – we can set clear, measurable goals and targets with our supplier partners that we can collectively work towards, ultimately driving success.”

It is this consistency that can accelerate progress, thanks to a unified message, and intelligent sharing of data. “Working together, we can improve sustainability throughout the entire hospitality supply chain,” adds Patrick Mayhew, SVP, Strategic Sourcing at Avendra. “It allows all the HARP members to assess and benchmark the environmental, human, and ethical practices of our suppliers via EcoVadis.”

Hilton is another of the founder members of the alliance, and their Vice President, Hilton Supply Management Americas, Linda Theisen, appreciates the value the collaboration is bringing.  “We understand the importance of stakeholder collaboration to accelerate positive impact across global supply chains, and we are thrilled to join industry peers in driving responsible procurement across hospitality,” she says.  “We are proud to celebrate this cross-industry collaboration to secure sustainable travel for future generations.”

Procurement acting as a key driver for change

The environmental impacts of procurement and supply operations are integral for the sustainability strategies of all the founding hospitality members. It is for this reason procurement is absolutely integral to the success of the wider business environmental strategy.  Caroline Tissot, Group Chief Procurement Officer at another of the founder members Accor, feels projects like the alliance are essential to achieving real change in the industry. “Innovative and solution-based initiatives that focus on core business activities are crucial to realising the hospitality industry’s vision for a sustainable future,” she explains. “This collaboration marks a crucial next step which Accor is very proud to be a part of.”

Patrick Mayhew from Avendra elaborates on this point, adding that the focus on sourcing helps focus on a critical area for progress. “The footprint of the combined products and services a hospitality company purchases are significant, so working on advancing sustainability within procurement is essential,” he says. “The HARP collaboration offers Avendra the opportunity to further engage the supply chain where we can have the most impact on sustainability.” 

Groups like Marriott International have their own sustainability goals, but they know their efforts to drive impact at scale on a global level to reduce carbon, water, waste and source responsible products does not happen in a vacuum. “We felt it important to collaborate across the hospitality industry so we can all achieve our strategic sustainability commitments. This was the appeal to co-founding HARP, as we believe we can achieve results more quickly and effectively by partnering to drive the adoption of sustainable practices across our supply chains worldwide,” explains their SVP of Global Procurement, Stéphane Masson.

The value of technology 

Modern procurement technology is obviously critical in forming a foundation for how the alliance operates, and looks to achieve their objectives. “EcoVadis’ technology platform powers the scaleup of all aspects of the sustainable procurement journey - from risk management to impact reporting,” says Richard Eyram from EcoVadis. “The EcoVadis Rating methodology, which has scaled to more than 125,000 companies, leverages an AI-powered 360 Watch that scans over 100,000 sources for news and reports.”

It is the data that tells a story, and the more data there is, it allows procurement experts to work out a better interpretation of that story. Paul McArdle from Entegra knows how vital that technology is to achieve their desired results. “One of the key functions we rely on technology for is measurement, because we recognize that only by setting measurable goals and working towards them, can we achieve real change.”

The benefit for guests

With more suppliers and members joining the alliance and buying into the methodology of the group, the founding team feel the future is both bright and more sustainable as a result,”  says Sopan Shah, SVP, Chief Procurement Officer at IHG. “HARP is focused on generating a positive impact at greater scale by adding more sustainable suppliers to the EcoVadis ecosystem and working with suppliers to build awareness of sustainability best practice, to increase their maturity in this space over time. By working with clients through the HARP alliance, suppliers should also start to benefit from efficiencies over time in responding to client sustainability requirements.” This positive impact can also be shared across the businesses involved, the technology companies making it possible, the suppliers interacting with the members, but also the guests using the services.  “The collaboration will no doubt deliver unmatched value to not only our suppliers but also our guests, as we continue to push for positive impact.” says Caroline Tissot, Group Chief Procurement Officer at Accor.

“Our guests can take pride in knowing they are helping to drive positive change in meeting sustainability ambitions – over time the HARP alliance can help accelerate more sustainable and ethical supply offerings to hotels,” continues Sopan Shah. This benefit to the guest is echoed by Stéphane Masson fromMarriott International. One of our core values at Marriott is to serve our world. We are proud to be a founding member of HARP to help us fulfil the sustainable travel expectations of our guests, customers and associates around the globe.”

The guests may not always be aware of how the goods and services they are enjoying were sourced, but the alliance is united in knowing it is a programme worth committing to for the good of the planet. “It may not always be what guests see, but this work is essential for an overall sustainability program and the information gathered through HARP and the EcoVadis program helps properties make strategic decisions about the suppliers they use,” saysPatrick Mayhew, SVP, Strategic Sourcing, Avendra.

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