We spend a lot of money in public procurement; on average of 14% of our gross domestic in the European Union. How we spend it affects our entire economy. Buying wisely can help us make our economy more sustainable and inclusive.
Forerunner organizations have included environmental and social requirements in their tenders for decades. While this has an impact, composing requirements takes time, expertise and resources. As a result, significant majority of procurement is still not ‘green’.
As consumers, citizens, employees and investors, we have become painfully aware of climate change. A concern for the future of our planet has become mainstream. We need to meet ambitious targets to limit the temperature rise. Sustainability needs to be part of every business in our economy. Yet, for the majority of our public tenders, we don’t ask a single question about sustainability.
Work Ahead develops software to advance sustainability and social benefits in public procurement. The company’s innovation is to view sustainability as a business practice that should constantly improve. Sustainability criteria can be hard to define in a contract. However, every company can be seen on a path to greater sustainability, and there are always steps they can take to become better. Work Ahead’s technology makes it easy for public procurement to measure and support this change for better.
Work Ahead’s technology can be used with any tender process, and particularly well among all current providers. Procurement personnel does not need to know what sustainability questions to ask, as Work Ahead’s friendly self-assessment automatically asks relevant questions from each company. Upon completing the 15-minute exercise, the company gets customized feedback of their current positive impact, and areas that would be easy to change.
Many business practices that are sustainable and responsible, are also in general, good business practices. Periodic inspiration, follow-up and tailored incentives help shift the company’s focus from meeting the contract minimum criteria, to having sustainability at the core of the business. Many of these changes directly benefit the society, environment, and they can even affect finances.
For the public procurement, Work Ahead’s software provides detailed data on the societal impact of procurement, and allows tracking real-time how the companies are improving. “In our work with international corporations, we’ve seen that just asking often leads to changes. That’s why we built our technology on what we call ‘digital dialogue’. We want to give procurement the power to catalyze changes for better when we spend taxpayer’s money”, explains Work Ahead’s CEO Ilona Mooney the thinking behind the company’s innovation. Work Ahead’s technology was featured at an expo booth and a study visit at the Baltic Circular Procurement Congress.
Text: Ilona Mooney