Last month, Ariba Discovery- Ariba's service for introducing buyers and suppliers- and the Ariba Supplier Network launched a feature set around letting suppliers indicate in their profiles if they have Green / Sustainable / Eco- Initiatives. It was a pretty interesting feature to work on, and release. Originally, we had really hoped to allow businesses to identify what "green" certifications they held. As I dug into that, it was very interesting to see how fragmented certifications in the green / eco / sustainability arena are. Moreover, the fragmentation only increases when looking across geographies, and, especially, verticals. We worked with a great consultant, Ted Rose, to navigate through the landscape of the most popular sorts of certifications in North America and Europe. And while we were able to find some leading ones, one thing that became apparent to us was that nearly no matter what we selected, we were going to leave a lot of our suppliers out. For example, the ISO certifications seem, in some ways, to be advanced in terms of maturity, but they are also costly and not pursued by the small/medium businesses that make up so much of our valuable Ariba Supplier Network. Similar problems were encountered in the evaluation of a number of other leading certifications: it only addressed one vertical, only was affordable by large businesses, was limited to a certain region, etc.
So, we decided to take a different initial direction in what we delivered. Looking at all the certifications we were considering, we distilled out of them the major areas of business that they covered- for example: carbon or transportation. And, because we also recognize that with the fragmentation of the certifications available, not every supplier that actually is green, or making efforts to get there, is going to have or invest in a certification, we decided to focus more on the core values: the initiatives that suppliers are undertaking. If beneath that initiative is a commitment that has resulted in a certification, then the buyer is certainly going to be interested. But, for the initial sort of introductory service we are doing at Ariba Discovery, we very pleased to be able to allow suppliers on Ariba Supplier Network and Ariba Discovery to update their profiles to mention what green initiatives they have undertaken.
What Green Capabilities Can You Promote?
The new feature allows you to describe your green capabilities in any of five general areas:
- Plan: Select this option if your company has a written plan documenting how you currently or will address and implement sustainable business practices.
- Products and Services: If your business sells products and/or services that reduce harmful environmental impacts in measurable ways, this is the option for you.
- Energy: Choose this category if your company is pursuing initiatives in energy efficiency and/or renewable energy.
- Carbon: If your organization participates in carbon reporting, carbon reduction, and/or carbon offsetting to reduce your carbon footprint, you qualify for this category.
- Transportation: If your business is making efforts to increase efficiency in transportation and logistics and/or fleet management, select this option.
How Do You Get Started?
To use the new feature, simply log in to your account at discovery.ariba.com and click on "Manage Your Profile." Go to the "Edit Profile" screen and select the "Diversity & Green" tab, then click on "Green Initiatives." From there you can select any of the categories for which your business qualifies. That's all there is to it!