Responsible Purchasing

Several years ago, Saint-Gobain introduced a responsible purchasing policy (excluding tradables for our distribution networks) with its strategic suppliers.
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A key element in Saint-Gobain's Responsible Purchasing Policy is the training of buyers. This is why we have developed a modern system of e-learning to ensure that the whole community knows and accepts the principles of the Purchasing' Charter.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is one criterion included in the supplier management conditions. The responsible purchasing approach is based on three fundamentals: purchasing officers’ commitment, the supplier approach, and the procedures and systems used by Saint-Gobain Purchasing to achieve the CSR aims.

Purchasing officers’ commitment 

This aspect is set out clearly in the Purchasing Charter  that defines the Principles of Conduct and Action for the Purchasing function. This Charter is designed for all purchasing officers in subsidiaries, Sectors, Delegations, Saint-Gobain Purchasing, and by extension all employees (stockers, technicians and managers) who come into contact with one or more Group suppliers as part of their work. It aims to provide guidelines for its day-to-day concrete application in accordance with the Group’s rules. 

Two Responsible Purchasing e-learning modules, which begin with acceptance of the Purchasing Charter, have been created for the Group’s purchasing officers. The most recent  is based on 20 situational scenarios built around the Principles of Conduct and Action and applicable procedures. 

The supplier approach 

The Suppliers Charter sets out the Group’s commitments with regard to its suppliers and sub-contractors and invites them to adhere to the principles it promotes. The purchasing officers are responsible for its distribution and checking that it is understood and applied. 

Some suppliers included in families of purchases considered a potential CSR risk (Corporate Social Responsibility) are encouraged to submit to a CSR performance assessment by an external company with recognized expertise in this field. The questionnaires are adapted to the size of the supplier and supplier segment assessed; the answers are analyzed and mapped on a scorecard, which highlights any strengths and weaknesses. The aim is to implement a supplier action plan and to provide purchasing officers with a way of comparing suppliers, incorporating aspects of CSR in their supplier portfolios and using this additional knowledge to contain any potential risks.

Those suppliers that present the highest level of potential risk may be required to submit to an onsite social audit by a trusted third party. It is performed in order to check the supplier’s practices regarding the environment and ethics, and its social approach, workplace practices and management systems.

Procedures and systems

Purchasing officers and suppliers have access to site R-Net , which has details about suppliers and their responsible development. The site has two separate platforms. The first is external and is designed for suppliers wishing to endorse the Charter online, access Group communications, upload documents about their practices and consult their assessment and audit scores. The second platform is internal and designed for purchasing officers; it is useful for finding suppliers, checking their assessment and audit scores, and reading the documents they have uploaded.

Purchasing officers also have access to several internal procedures and policy documents  addressing a range of topics: conflict of interest, gift policy and embargos, as well as a guide to compliance with competition law.

Specific clauses are included in contracts: the “Responsible Purchasing Clause” ensures that the supplier complies with the Group’s principles, and, for the purchases concerned, the “Timber Clause” ensures that suppliers source legal timber for us that complies with human rights and environmental standards.