Driving Ethical Excellence: Unveiling the Transformative Power of Governance in Procurement

Dr Vijay Sangam, 11:45, 23 Jun 2023


Ethical procurement has gained significant importance for organizations across industries in today’s interconnected world. It involves the responsible sourcing of goods and services while considering social, environmental, and ethical factors. However, ensuring ethical practices throughout the procurement process requires effective governance. In this article, we will explore the vital role of governance in ethical procurement, highlighting case studies and references that exemplify best practices.

Governance as a Foundation for Ethical Procurement:

Governance is the foundation for ethical procurement, providing the structure, policies, and frameworks necessary for responsible decision-making. Effective governance ensures that ethical considerations are integrated into procurement processes, supplier selection, and contract management.

  • The United Nations Global Compact:

The United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) is a voluntary initiative encouraging businesses worldwide to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies. It provides a governance framework for organizations to integrate ethical considerations, including procurement practices, into their operations. The UNGC’s Ten Principles offer a comprehensive guide to incorporating ethical practices, including respect for human rights, labor standards, environmental sustainability, and anti-corruption measures. By aligning with the UNGC, companies demonstrate their commitment to upholding ethical procurement practices.

  • The Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI):

The Ethical Trading Initiative is a collaborative effort involving companies, trade unions, and non-governmental organizations. ETI offers a framework for organizations to address ethical issues in their supply chains, including procurement. By signing up for the ETI Base Code, companies commit to implementing key principles such as prohibiting forced and child labor and providing fair wages and working conditions. The ETI promotes transparency, accountability, and continuous improvement in supply chain ethics through active engagement with stakeholders, including suppliers and workers.

Case Studies:

  • Apple Inc.:

Apple Inc. is widely recognized for its efforts in ethical procurement through robust governance mechanisms. The company developed its Supplier Code of Conduct, setting strict labor practices, human rights, and environmental responsibility standards. Apple regularly conducts audits and collaborates with suppliers to improve practices. Through their Supplier Responsibility program, they have addressed issues like child labor, excessive working hours, and unsafe working conditions in their supply chain. Apple’s governance structure and proactive approach have resulted in positive impacts, driving suppliers to enhance their ethical performance.

  • Nestlé:

Nestlé, one of the world’s largest food and beverage companies, has implemented a comprehensive governance framework for ethical procurement. The Nestlé Responsible Sourcing Standard defines requirements for suppliers regarding human rights, labor practices, and environmental sustainability. The company actively engages with suppliers, conducts regular assessments, and offers capacity-building programs to ensure compliance with its standards. Nestlé’s governance-driven approach has improved supplier performance by reducing child labor and enhancing responsible sourcing practices.


This reference provides a comprehensive guide on how organizations can integrate the principles of the UN Global Compact into their procurement processes. It offers practical advice and examples to support ethical procurement practices.

The ETI’s Base Code Guidance outlines the key principles companies should adhere to to ensure ethical procurement practices. It provides detailed explanations and examples of addressing specific issues within supply chains, such as labor rights and working conditions.

Apple’s Supplier Responsibility program showcases the company’s commitment to ethical procurement. The reference highlights Apple’s initiatives, audits, and collaborations to ensure ethical practices throughout their supply chain.

Nestlé’s Responsible Sourcing program provides insights into the company’s governance framework for ethical procurement. The reference showcases Nestlé’s standards, assessments, and capacity-building initiatives to promote responsible sourcing practices.


Governance plays a crucial role in ensuring ethical procurement practices. Organizations can embed ethical considerations into their procurement processes by establishing frameworks, policies, and standards. The United Nations Global Compact and the Ethical Trading Initiative provide valuable resources to guide organizations adopting ethical procurement practices. Case studies of companies like Apple and Nestlé demonstrate the positive impact of effective governance in addressing ethical issues within supply chains.

Apple’s robust governance mechanisms, including its Supplier Code of Conduct and Supplier Responsibility program, have helped address labor rights violations and promote safer working conditions in its supply chain. Nestlé’s comprehensive governance framework, exemplified through its Responsible Sourcing program, emphasizes the importance of human rights, labor practices, and environmental sustainability in procurement.

References such as the Global Compact Network Australia’s guide and the Ethical Trading Initiative’s Base Code Guidance offer practical insights and examples for organizations seeking to integrate ethical considerations into their procurement processes. These resources can serve as references for developing and implementing effective governance frameworks to promote ethical procurement practices.

By embracing governance-driven ethical procurement, businesses can contribute to sustainable development, promote responsible business conduct, and build stakeholder trust. Organizations can make significant progress in fostering ethical procurement and positively impacting global supply chains by aligning governance, policies, and practices.

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