New tool incorporates social value into post-secondary procurement practices

December 14, 2021
The British Columbia Collaborative for Social Innovation (BCSCI) created the “Social Procurement Guide: AMPLIFY YOUR PURCHASING DOLLARS FOR A BETTER WORLD” which encourages B.C’s post-secondary institutions to improve economic conditions in their local communities by leveraging their procurement spend.

Simon Fraser University is one of four post-secondary institutions aiming to further their sustainability goals through a new social procurement guide, produced in collaboration with the British Columbia Collaborative for Social Innovation (BCCSI).

Social Procurement: AMPLIFY YOUR PURCHASING DOLLARS FOR A BETTER WORLD is designed to empower procurement professionals in post-secondary institutions to achieve positive social change through their procurement activities.

As purchasers of millions of dollars in goods and services annually, post-secondary procurement departments can be examples of how social and environmental factors can be incorporated in their purchasing practices. 

“Today, we are expected to deliver more than quality and economy when purchasing goods and services, we must consider their social and environmental value and impact as well,” says Mary Aylesworth, SFU’s director of financial operations and guide contributor. “This guide is designed to address the needs of procurement professionals working in Canada’s higher education sector.”

A global movement to reimagine the purpose and practices of public procurement is outlined in the United Nations’ Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, recognizing the increasing inequalities between and within nations and their impacts on declining global and local ecosystems.

How this guide can help:

The BCCSI developed the guide in partnership with SFU, the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC), and Vancouver Island University (VIU), with support from the McConnell Foundation

The guide, the result of research conducted over two years, provides insights on procurement practices in higher education and other public sectors throughout Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. 

As a practical tool, it will encourage post-secondary institutions to take a broader approach to social procurement practices and build social procurement strategies.

How SFU is practicing social procurement

Included in the guide are some examples of social procurement initiatives at SFU, such as the Aboriginal Procurement Program which aims to increase the number of Indigenous-owned suppliers to the university.  There is also an innovative approach to sourcing catering services by focusing on Indigenous and social-purpose catering firms.  SFU is also committed to the welfare of workers employed by our suppliers; one approach has been to require suppliers to pay higher wages than the industry standard.

Defining social procurement: How institutions play their part 

Post-secondary institutions strive to be leaders in the global sustainable procurement movement, which seeks to avoid negative environmental impacts while simultaneously benefiting the organization, society and the economy. In recent years, post-secondary institutions have focused on two aspects of sustainable procurement — environmental sustainability and labour and human rights issues.

Although those are significant first steps in social procurement, most post-secondary institutions look beyond those two aspects by taking a broader approach to achieving social value. For example, post-secondary institutions can use socially-focused procurement practices to support local communities in their efforts to reduce poverty, advance economic and social inclusion, and grow the local economy.

Learn more about the social procurement guide here.