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In a world where we're all yearning for significant changes in how we treat our planet, striving for a fairer and more inclusive society, and demanding transparency and responsibility from individuals, governments, and businesses alike, many big corporations are pondering ways to be part of the solution. They want to make a positive impact, reduce their carbon footprint, and contribute to a more equitable world.

So, how are they planning to make this happen? It's all about sustainability – a commitment to not just talk the talk but walk the walk. This means setting clear goals, creating policies and procedures, taking concrete actions, measuring their impact, and being upfront about how they're doing in the areas of social responsibility, environmental practices, and governance.

But here's the kicker: these transformations can't be achieved in isolation. To truly make a sustainable difference, companies need all hands on deck. That's why many big players are looking closely at their partners and suppliers, evaluating them through the lens of sustainability. They want to know if they're on the same page when it comes to making the world a better place.

To help with these evaluations, companies encourage their key suppliers to undergo the EcoVadis Sustainability Assessment. Some even require suppliers to maintain a specific rating to keep doing business together. This is a new reality for many small and medium-sized companies, pushing them to step up their sustainability game and back up their claims with solid evidence.

Understanding the EcoVadis Assessment

EcoVadis is a global platform that provides sustainability ratings and paid sustainability impact performance assessments for companies across various industries.

The EcoVadis methodology is built on recognized international standards such as GRI, UNGC, ISO, SBTI, etc, with a specific focus on four areas:

  • Environmental

  • Labor and Human Rights

  • Ethics and

  • Sustainable Procurement.

Now, let's break down what this EcoVadis Sustainability Assessment is about. It's not your typical one-size-fits-all questionnaire; it's customized to match a company's size, location, and industry. As companies work through this questionnaire, they're not just checking boxes. They're also encouraged to back up their answers with solid proof.

The questions are divided into three levels of importance – high, medium, and low. This system sets up a roadmap, showing companies which areas they should tackle first. In other words, it helps them focus on what matters to them.

What happens once a company submits the questionnaire?

EcoVadis’ analysts carefully evaluate the responses in the questionnaire and the supporting documentation, and they also consider publicly available information that can provide deeper insights into the company's operations. This comprehensive evaluation considers historical events, which can carry varying degrees of influence depending on their nature and expiration periods, potentially superseding previously validated responses.

Each company participating in the EcoVadis assessment receives a scorecard, which assigns scores from 0 to 100 for each of the four themes and one for the entire company. This scorecard is a report card for a company's sustainability management system. Scores are presented as absolute percentiles with recognition medals – bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. The specific recognition level is determined by assessing both the minimum theme score and where the company stands compared to others.

It is essential to mention that EcoVadis is committed to keeping its recognition criteria up-to-date and equitable. They regularly review and adjust these criteria to align with the latest sustainability standards. A new recognition system is set to be implemented in 2024, demonstrating their dedication to evolving with the sustainability landscape. In 2024, they are increasing the scores needed for each medal. They are introducing two badges: Fast Mover for those who made significant improvements in the previous 18 months and Committed for those who did well in the assessment but didn’t reach the top 35% percentiles who are eligible for medals.

Companies can leverage the EcoVadis scorecard and medal as powerful tools to demonstrate their unwavering commitment to sustainability. These resources are clear indicators for customers, partners, investors, and other stakeholders. They showcase just how dedicated these companies are to making a positive impact.

Moreover, the scorecard and the accompanying recommendation report provide a practical materiality approach and a categorization system based on high, medium, and low impact. As stated before, these features are invaluable in pinpointing areas requiring attention and improvement.

For businesses seeking to enhance the sustainability of their supply chain, engaging suppliers in EcoVadis assessments is a well-thought-out strategic move. This not only benefits the companies themselves but also extends to their suppliers. It aids suppliers in managing risks, enhancing their reputation, and actively contributing to creating a more sustainable and mutually beneficial business ecosystem.

Maximizing your Score

For many companies, the initial encounter with the EcoVadis assessment can be challenging, as they often underestimate the complexity of the process. This underestimation can lead to a common and sobering outcome: a lower-than-anticipated score. This outcome is due to the tendency to provide incomplete, inaccurate, or inadequately substantiated responses and insufficient documentation to back those answers. As a result, companies find themselves grappling with scores that fall short of their aspirations.

To address this issue effectively and ensure a successful EcoVadis assessment, it becomes evident why hiring a consultant with the expertise to navigate the intricacies of the assessment process is not just beneficial but often imperative to boost your chances of success.

Valuable Tips for Successfully Completing the EcoVadis Assessment

To navigate the EcoVadis assessment successfully and overcome common pitfalls, consider these valuable tips that can elevate your approach and bolster your score, as they will help you streamline the process and achieve a more favorable outcome.

1- Thorough Documentation: Ensure that your sustainability initiatives are well-documented. Maintain organized records of your environmental, social, and ethical practices. This includes everything from supplier engagement to waste reduction programs. The more comprehensive your documentation, the easier it becomes to substantiate your responses to EcoVadis assessors. Make sure all internal documents have your company logo.

2- Internal Collaboration: Foster collaboration across departments within your organization. Engage with procurement, HR, and operations colleagues to gather relevant information and insights. This interdisciplinary approach can lead to a more holistic and accurate representation of your sustainability efforts in the assessment.

3- Organized and Clarity in Responses: Structure your responses clearly and organized. Make it easy for the analysts to review your answers by presenting the information logically. Use concise language and provide specific examples to support your claims. When your responses are easy to follow and understand, it increases the likelihood that assessors recognize your sustainability efforts effectively.

TBB’ has successfully partnered with its clients to help them through the assessment process, guiding them in navigating the assessment efficiently, reducing cost and time, and improving scores, and obtaining the best possible outcome.

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