What is social procurement, and what are the benefits?

Mar 14, 2022 | Digital

Organisations are always exploring new ways to create positive impact, without risking profitability. It’s why many are now, for the first time, seeing suppliers through a social responsibility lens.

You may already know that you could make a difference through your purchasing decisions. However, maybe you don’t know where to start.

Let’s explore the basics of social procurement – and some of the huge benefits it can deliver.


Photo of man looking down at desk at pile of papers to be digitised

What is social procurement?

Social procurement is when an organisation buys goods or services in a way that has positive benefits for society.


Why social procurement is gaining momentum

Today’s consumers and employees are demanding more action and measurable impact. In terms of corporate social responsibility, by using social procurement you put your money where your mouth is and tell the world you want to make a positive difference.

Many organisations see how buying goods and services from a social procurement supplier enhances their reputation. It provides a competitive advantage. It also:

  • Enables them to respond to a social need in a tangible way without added spend
  • Often aligns with government policy and agenda
  • Can give businesses a point of difference that helps them win tenders – and customers. In a study conducted by Nielsen, 66% of customers in over 60 countries stated they would spend money on a brand that used corporate social responsibility practices.(reference link)
  • Can attract purpose-driven employees who value an ethical and sustainable workplace.


How can it change the world?

  • Organisations that harness the potential of social procurement create value for their business. They can also help:
    Improve social and economic inclusion
  • Address difficult social challenges like intergenerational unemployment
  • Give small and medium-sized enterprises opportunities to flourish
  • Create employment opportunities for specific marginalised groups like refugees, homeless youth, or people with disability
  • Create training and employment opportunities
  • Improve diversity and inclusivity in workplaces, and encourage innovation
  • Support Fair Trade and increase environmental sustainability
    Promote economic growth.


Who can provide it?

An innovative breed of businesses is at the forefront of the social procurement revolution. They have a social purpose or mission at the core of their operations.

You may hear them called social procurement suppliers or providers. They may also be social enterprises, Indigenous businesses, or Fair Trade businesses. They can be minority-owned and women-owned businesses.

These providers can supply you with typical goods or services your business needs, and operate across almost every sector — from health and consumer goods, to financial services and insurance.


How can we ensure we are making a difference?

When selecting a social procurement supplier, it’s vital you ensure they can meet your organisation’s standards. You need to be certain that they can help you have the social impact you seek to achieve. A Social Traders membership is one way to ensure you’re dealing with a legitimate provider.

In Australia, Social Traders is the only certifier of social procurement suppliers. Whenever a social enterprise carries the Social Traders logo mark, it’s independently verified. You will know it’s a genuine, quality social enterprise that can help you make a positive impact in your community.

Social Traders also connects businesses and governments with these verified members. You can get expert advice and support to increase your social procurement activity.


Jigsaw is a social procurement supplier

Jigsaw’s clients range from local government organisations to financial institutions. Our clients want competitive digitisation, information management or data processing services. They also love that they are helping people with disability progress through our proven employment pathway.

Jigsaw’s approach is preparing young people with disability for mainstream employment, and it’s having a measurable impact. Over 600 people with disability have been through Jigsaw’s training program, and of everyone employed or transitioned in employment by Jigsaw, 91% retain their employment to this day.


Real story: social procurement

This case study is a real-life example of the impact social procurement can have on an individual.

A Queensland Government department asked Jigsaw to help digitise its paper-based records, while creating jobs for people with disabilities.

Click here to read the full case study.


Tips to kickstart your journey

  • See the opportunities – look at current contracts coming up for renewal. If you are seeking new suppliers, is there a social procurement provider out there that could match your needs?
  • Know what you want to achieve – what does social impact mean in your organisation? Create a strategy and set targets and KPIs. The more specific your goals, the more likely you are to achieve them
  • Get leadership on board – a report by Centre for Social Impact found most organisations using social procurement had senior leadership backing
  • Connect – collaborate with others passionate about social procurement. This includes your staff, industry experts and likeminded businesses already using social procurement
  • Audit your supply chain – you may discover you already work with social procurement suppliers, and you didn’t know it!
  • Share your results – let the world hear positive stories on your social procurement journey so they can learn from you!

And remember … there is more than one way to have a social impact with social procurement. Why not include social clauses in your tenders and contracts? For example, you could request a portion of work be done by a social enterprise. Or, you could ask a mainstream supplier to provide social benefits, like work opportunities for long term job seekers.


What next?

Becoming a Jigsaw customer is an opportunity for your organisation to try social procurement.

Get in contact today to see how Jigsaw can help you solve a business need and create social impact?

About Jigsaw Digital

Jigsaw is a social enterprise offering a range of market-leading digitisation and information management services to organisations across Australia. We provide a range of competitive on-site and off-site end-to-end document services including large volume scanning, small volume scanning, day forward scanning, back scanning, book scanning, Optical Character Recognition (OCR), and document destruction. Additionally we offer remote admin support, workflow process administrative assistance, data entry, database clean up, document verification and document upload. Jigsaw’s services are available Australia wide.