This summer, SPLC is running a Thought Leadership Interview Series in order to recognize and learn from some of the individuals involved in our work.
Today we’re pleased to share our interview with Tim Hopper; Manager of Responsible Sourcing Initiatives at Microsoft. Tim is currently leading work on a global responsible sourcing program for Microsoft’s 25,000+ indirect spend suppliers. He is passionate about creating business value while achieving positive corporate governance, social, and environmental impact, and continues to lend his expertise to numerous industry groups focused on advancing sustainability.
We hope you enjoy reading about his story and work on sustainable purchasing.
How did you get to where you are now?
- I started working in procurement in 2001, and while traveling to supplier locations across the world was struck by the positive impact we were having on the lives of individuals. To extend this impact, a colleague and I began to work on initiatives to positively impact the employees, their families, and their broader community. This was immensely satisfying and re-directed my career towards sustainable sourcing.
What is your organization’s story with sustainable purchasing?
- Our company has always had an incredible mission statement to positively impact people and our planet, so developing procurement approaches that reflect and execute on this mission is the priority of our leadership.
Achievements and Challenges
Thinking about your work related to sustainable purchasing, what is something you’re personally proud of having accomplished?
- Probably the most exciting work I have been part of is Impact Sourcing, where we seek to knock down artificial barriers of employment for high potential individuals. The chance to work with suppliers who build innovative models to empower new employees is very exciting work, and meeting impact workers who have felt this impact is very rewarding. There is much work to do, but my hope is that impact sourcing will be standard procurement practice.
What is a significant challenge that your organization has faced, related to sustainable purchasing?
- The key challenge in this space always is resources. There are so many opportunities for impact that we constantly need to make difficult choices.
Making the Business Case
How have you communicated the business case for sustainable purchasing within your organization?
- The business case for sustainability is contextualized to the stakeholders we are communicating with. For example, we articulate our programs and initiatives to some stakeholders in financial terms such as revenue enablement, to other stakeholder’s terms such as brand enhancement, and finally to other stakeholders in social and environmental impact numbers. We try to holistically measure our programs’ impact and then share in language that resonates with each stakeholder.
How do you motivate staff/ buyers within your organization to prioritize sustainability when procuring goods/services?
- Our baseline expectations are established by corporate policy and embedded into our procurement processes so it is entrenched into the organizational practices. Beyond these we have initiatives where employees are invited to participate or lead an area of impact they are passionate about.
The Big Picture
What are some emerging trends in sustainable purchasing and how might these affect the future of the sustainable purchasing movement?
- The era of big data is upon us and increasing intelligence of the social and environmental impacts we are having on the planet will inevitably be available to our stakeholders. Sustainable purchasing must be able to navigate all of the information that is becoming available and develop approaches to implement into their decision frameworks.
What do you value about the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council?
- The SPLC is a trusted partner to bring together sustainable purchasers for collaboration on best practices. Given the influx of new information, and new sustainability products and services, the SPLC has a proven track record equipping purchasers to navigate this complex landscape and ultimately converge on the resources with the highest impact.
What aspirations do you have for the sustainable purchasing movement and the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council?
- The SPLC is the catalyst to enable public and private purchasers to have a positive impact on the planet. By helping converge on the best products and services, the SPLC will enable purchasers to act! My aspiration is that purchasers globally will focus their collective spend on products and services that lead us all to inhabit a better planet.
A huge thank you to Tim for his insight.
Read an in-depth account of some of Microsoft’s impact sourcing work in their case study, Microsoft Contact Center Strategic Suppliers. This received an Outstanding Case Study award when they submitted it for an SPLC Leadership Award in 2015. Non-members can read the abstract, SPLC members have access to the full document.
More blog posts from our Thought Leadership Interview Series will be uploaded here.
Are you interested in gaining access to more resources like these? Learn more about SPLC Membership.