Ethical Sourcing and Procurement: Supporting a Sustainable Supply Chain

Using digital procurement solutions to meet ESG objectives

With so much pressure on environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics, organisations 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 evolving regulations that are propelling corporations to more closely consider supplier sustainability and the ethical sourcing of materials. 

In this article, we discover how digital procurement solutions can help organisations with sustainable procurement.

Sustainable Procurement Solutions - using digital procurement solutions to meet ESG objectives

Digital procurement solutions offer organisations 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 helps deliver greater transparency and support corporate accountability and regulatory compliance, enabling a more efficient supply chain process. Automating traditionally paper-based manual processes increases speed and efficiency. 

Climate change and supply chains 

Climate change is one of the greatest threats to modern society, and its manifestations have caused significant adverse effects on supply chains, disrupting traditional processes, which, in turn, lead to productivity loss, carbon footprint reporting errors and greater institutional risk. A company's negative environmental impact can often stem from supply chains, and organisations must understand how they can make positive changes to their supply chains to contribute to helping to solve today’s environmental dilemmas. A clear and transparent view of a supply chain is vital to a sustainable procurement strategy. Many organisations are using cloud-based software to access the data they need regarding their supply chains.

Agreement technology for sustainable procurement

The Docusign Agreement Cloud

contains multiple capabilities to address complex procurement process issues organisations face while also supporting a sustainable supply chain. It offers procurement teams a centralised 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 organisations to embed sustainability criteria within contracts—and 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 organisation accomplish sustainable procurement, Docusign offers compelling digital solutions:

Electronic signature


Electronic signature

Docusign eSignature digitises 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, reducing the risk of errors or misinformation. 

The savings go way beyond the traditional business metrics. eSignature has helped hundreds of millions of people replace over 55 billion sheets of paper—thereby preserving over 6 million trees*. Customers who digitally sign documents with eSignature have also helped save over 22 billion litres of water, 148 million kgs of waste and 2 billion kgs of additional CO₂.

Combine these improvements with the fact that it helps facilitate remote working, which can help save 3.2 tonnes of CO₂ per employee per year, and suddenly a digital signature solution like Docusign eSignature at a distributed enterprise-level becomes a significant part of your organisation’s sustainable procurement process.

Contract analytics


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

Insight can help your business uncover vital insights from documents regarding 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 analysed for adherence to diversity and inclusion initiatives, pay equality, labour 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 analysing your documents, Insight helps bring your sustainability mission in line with several key ESG clauses while saving time and manpower. 

For 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 organisation could analyse 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 uncover best practices transferable to other purchasing areas.

Unilever, a leader in sustainable supply chains, 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 optimising and improving multiple facets of their business, such as equal employment opportunities and pay equality. Discover how you can solve procurement challenges with intelligent tools

Docusign Agreement Cloud for more sustainable procurement processes

Enterprises across the UK and abroad are sustainably transforming their procurement processes thanks to the Docusign Agreement Cloud. The suite of tools integrates with existing source-to-pay software, including SAP Ariba and Oracle. Let us help your organisation revolutionise sustainable sourcing in your procurement process. 

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

* Estimates of paper savings are current as of January 2022 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.