Ethical Sourcing: Supporting a Sustainable Supply Chain

With so much pressure on environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics, organizations are looking for tools that aid their efforts. A Harvard Business Review analysis of global institutional investment firms suggests that “ESG is now a priority for these companies and that corporations will soon be held accountable by shareholders for their ESG performance.” Along with this, there’s greater customer awareness of social and environmental issues and tighter federal regulations that are propelling corporations to more closely consider supplier sustainability and the ethical sourcing of materials. 

Digital procurement solutions offer organizations a simple way to effectively manage their procurement process—and ensure supply chain practices meet or surpass the environmental and ethical expectations set by consumers and regulatory institutions. Digital transformation of supply chain agreement processes not only helps to deliver greater transparency, and support corporate accountability and regulatory compliance, it also enables a more efficient supply chain process.

Climate change exacerbates the situation

Climate change is one of the greatest threats to modern society. In the last year alone, the U.S. has experienced rampant wildfires in California, extreme drought throughout the west, and record rainfall and flooding in the midwest and east.

The observable manifestations of climate change have caused significant adverse effects on supply chains, disrupting traditional processes which, in turn, leads to productivity loss, carbon footprint reporting errors and greater institutional risk. This new reality begs the question: what sort of shift in the supply chain could positively contribute to helping to solve today’s environmental dilemmas?

Agreement technology for procurement

The DocuSign Agreement Cloud contains multiple capabilities to address your organization’s complex procurement process issues, while also supporting a sustainable supply chain. It offers procurement teams a centralized digital agreement platform to prepare, sign, act on and manage documents, transforming manual paper-based procurement processes into accountable and transparent systems.

The Agreement Cloud also enables organizations to embed sustainability criteria within contracts—and also allows them to monitor vendors for compliance with those criteria. This keeps partners, suppliers and even suppliers’ suppliers accountable, resulting in a higher share of contracts with best-practice sustainability clauses, more sustainability objectives met, and—most importantly—tangible improvements to metrics like carbon productivity.

To help your organization accomplish your sustainability goals, DocuSign offers compelling digital solutions:

Electronic signature

DocuSign eSignature digitizes your contract signing process from end-to-end—and it works on virtually any device with easy-to-view mobile forms. When preparing a document for e-signature, you can define the specific fields you need a recipient to complete, which reduces the risk of errors or misinformation. For example, a date field will automatically populate the current date.

But the savings go way beyond the traditional business metrics. DocuSign eSignature has helped hundreds of millions of people replace over 38 billion sheets of paper—preserving over 4 million trees. Moreover, customers who digitally sign documents with eSignature—eliminating the need for paper copies—have also helped to save over 4 billion gallons of water, 225 million pounds of waste and 3 billion pounds of additional CO₂.

Combine these improvements with the fact that telecommuting can help save 3.2 tonnes of CO₂ per employee per year, and all of a sudden a digital signature solution like DocuSign eSignature at a distributed enterprise level becomes a significant part of your organization’s sustainable procurement process.

Contract analytics

DocuSign Insight finds, filters and analyzes your existing agreements with purpose-built contract analytics. Insight intelligently searches your agreements by concept as well as by keywords, adding AI models for critical topics like procurement, compliance and data privacy.

Insight can help your business uncover key insights from documents regarding some of today’s most pressing sustainability concerns: waste disposal, air pollution, TCFD implementation for the Paris Agreement, resource circularity and GHG emissions. Documents can also be analyzed for adherence to diversity and inclusion initiatives, pay equality, labor violations, health and safety guidelines, governance body composition and even whether training is provided.

Finally, Insight can help you hold buyers and suppliers accountable for governance adherence. It detects and reports on anti-corruption, taxes paid, executive remuneration and total social investment. In short, by digitally analyzing your documents, Insight helps to bring your sustainability mission in line with several key ESG clauses, all while saving time and manpower. 

As an example, when one of the world’s leading aerospace manufacturers began working towards ‘zero waste’ in its turbine supply chain, they turned to DocuSign Insight. With Insight’s natural language processing capabilities, the organization was able to analyze hundreds of agreements automatically to ensure supplier contracts contained up-to-date ESG language. 

At a glance, the company could tell whether obligations were being tracked and managed accurately. They knew whether audits were conducted on the agreed-upon schedule and that incentives were applied or revoked as appropriate. To this day, the tool helps them to uncover best practices which are transferable to other purchasing areas.

And then there’s Unilever, a leader in sustainable supply chains, that uses DocuSign CLM to not only save on time, but cut down on paper usage, carbon emissions and waste creation at a global scale—and its AI-driven document analysis toolset brings with it the features for optimizing and improving multiple facets of their business, such as equal employment opportunities and pay equality.

DocuSign Agreement Cloud for more sustainable procurement processes

Enterprises across the country and abroad are sustainably transforming their procurement processes thanks to the DocuSign Agreement Cloud. The suite of tools integrate with your existing source-to-pay software including SAP Ariba and Oracle, to help your organization be more transparent and support your ESG objectives. Let us help you revolutionize sustainable sourcing in your organization’s procurement process.

Learn more about how to Build a Modern Agreement Workflow for Procurement can support both your organization’s ESG efforts and your digital transformation. 

* Estimates of paper savings are current as of January 2021 and are based on the aggregate number of transactions via DocuSign eSignature since the company was founded in 2003. The model assumes that recipients of a document would print the document once, on average.