Sodexo: The Benefits of Ethical Sourcing in Procurement

Procurement Magazine Speaks to Aoife Wycherley, Head of Food Procurement and Supply Chain at Sodexo UK & Ireland to Discuss Ethical Sourcing Strategies

As Head of Food Procurement and Supply Chain at Sodexo UK & Ireland, Aofie Wycherley is an experienced leader in procurement and supply chain. In her role, her responsibilities include ethical and responsible procurement strategies. 

What does ethical sourcing look like?

Ethical sourcing is all about building long-term and mutually beneficial relationships with suppliers, taking into consideration the social, environmental, and economic impact of every purchase. 

“Sodexo has a diverse supply chain, numbering roughly 4,300 organisations, and we encourage them to share our ethical principles and procurement commitments. As such, we expect them to comply with our supply chain code of conduct,” says Wycherley.

“We also focus on harnessing impactful initiatives that make a difference. This includes educating our team on critical issues such as Modern Slavery, enabling them to identify key signs effectively. We're also revolutionising our tendering process by integrating a social impact criterion that will account for at least 10% of the evaluation, starting January 2024. This change emphasises our commitment to ethical and sustainable procurement practices, ensuring these values are integral to our decision-making process.”

Preserving and developing long-term partnerships with its suppliers is essential to progress at Sodexo. For its supply chain, partnering on ethical sourcing with Sodexo looks like: 

  • Partnering with suppliers who share its values: Sodexo works with suppliers who uphold the highest ethical standards throughout their operations.
  • Focusing on sustainable sourcing: Sodexo partners with suppliers to ensure that products and services are sourced to the highest industry standards. 
  • Implementing rigorous responsible sourcing standards: Sodexo have established clear guidelines and procedures for supplier selection and evaluation, ensuring they comply with our high ethical standards.
  • Conducting supply chain due diligence: Sodexo completes due diligence with our suppliers to ensure they meet our ethical sourcing requirements and identify potential improvement areas.”
  • Promoting transparency and accountability: Sodexo is committed to transparency in our supply chain and regularly publish information on our sourcing practices and supplier relationships.

“Our approach to sustainable supplies includes sourcing products that meet industry marques and partnering with suppliers from the regions where we operate. We believe that, wherever possible, we should purchase fairly traded and ethically sourced products. This ensures better trading conditions for producers and helps us build lasting relationships with both global and local suppliers that have sustainable businesses,” explains Wycherley.

The challenges of implementing ethical sourcing

When it comes to ethical sourcing strategies, the approach requires long-term vision and commitment. “It can be challenging to balance ethical considerations with the need to be the cheapest and meet customer demand, especially when faced with rising costs and supply chain disruptions,” explains Wycherley.

“However, we believe investing in ethical sourcing is not only the right thing to do, but it also makes good business sense as it is something that consumers expect. By building strong relationships with ethical suppliers, we can secure reliable and high-quality products, reduce risks and enhance our brand reputation.” 

Where to start when implementing an ethical sourcing strategy?

Starting with the basics, organisations, when implementing an ethical sourcing strategy should begin by assessing the current sourcing practices and identify areas for improvement.  

“Once you have identified your strengths and weaknesses, you can develop a plan to improve your sourcing strategy. This may involve setting ethical, sustainable sourcing goals, developing clear guidelines for supplier selection and evaluation or implementing training programmes for your procurement team,” says Wycherley.

“Consider tackling high-impact, short-term initiatives as an effective approach to gain traction and stimulate organisational support. This strategy lays the groundwork for more extensive, long-term plans. Remember, the quest for perfection shouldn't stall your progress. The most crucial aspect is to initiate action. We're all navigating this path together, and there's a wealth of opportunities for collective learning and development.”

How can technology help?

Furthering the success of a well-implemented strategy is technology. Latest advances can play a significant role in improving ethical sourcing practices.  

“There are various tools and platforms available that can help organisations map, track and monitor their supply chains, identify risks of unethical practices and source from sustainable and ethical suppliers. These tools and platforms also reduce the reporting burden for suppliers as they only have to provide information once which can then be shared with multiple organisations,” notes Wycherley.

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