EXPERT VIEW

Rachel Dolan
Head of Procurement and Supplier Relationship Management
Permanent TSB

Permanent TSB Group is a provider of financial services for individuals and businesses in Ireland.

Over the past eight years, Rachel Dolan and her team have transformed Procurement at Permanent TSB into a key enabler of the bank’s key strategic functions.

Touching upon the firm’s ESG priorities and Irish market-specific challenges, she discusses the role of Procurement in advancing the organization-wide sustainability agenda.

“Leadership teams and stakeholders are now recognizing the value-add of Procurement. As a result, we are seeing the procurement function increasingly involved in the key strategic initiatives of the business.”

Communicating the value-add of Procurement

Procurement has "got a seat at the table" by showcasing their contribution to the business. Dolan explains, “To get board-level buy-in you must go beyond delivering against your targets and communicate your story and wider purpose within the business. In our case, it was through a cost optimization journey that laid the foundations for a cost-conscious culture in our organization.”

Embarking on a green journey

After navigating Ireland’s economic downturn, the COVID-19 pandemic, a large-scale digital transformation process, and major acquisitions, Permanent TSB’s next strategic priority is to further develop its sustainability agenda. 

“The Bank has made significant progress on its sustainability journey over the last number of years, including the launch of the Bank’s new Sustainability Strategy in late 2021. We have also been implementing a comprehensive D&I strategy and recently launched our first green product to the market. With increasing regulatory and disclosure requirements around climate reporting, sustainability is a key pillar of our strategic plan for the next few years.”

From ad-hoc to streamlined

In the financial services industry, Dolan explains, the remit of the procurement function is highly complex. “We buy a range of different professional services and IT services. We are responsible for overseeing the people chain, where companies are based, how they operate, and what their credentials are.”

In light of this, implementing ESG in procurement requires adjustments from supplier screening and onboarding through to governance and reporting. 

“We have created an integrated, comprehensive framework for sustainable procurement. We have engaged with a financial services qualification system called Hellios, and we are mandating in terms of our due diligence that suppliers are members of the Hellios community. This enables us to ask a suite of questions aligned to ESG criteria, assessing suppliers’ policies and certifications at the onboarding stage. We have also updated our contracts in relation to ESG expectations and are in the process of rolling out a Sustainability Charter.”

Assessing and evaluating supplier data

With ESG metrics and accreditation still an emerging space, procurement teams encounter a range of different barriers in the process of trying to access and evaluate supplier data.  

Dolan explains that the range of different accreditations, risk appetites, and questions make it difficult to implement a streamlined assessment system across the supply chain. “The magic here lies in allowing your suppliers to give you data in a particular way that enables you to mine it and understand it, without creating further blockages. It is also essential that this data can be updated regularly and reported back to the wider organization,” she says.

Dolan is conscious that with the cross-sectoral ESG landscape constantly evolving, assessment structures must be flexible so they can be tailored to shifting priorities and areas of focus. “The better our data flows are, the better we will be able to cope with changing question sets and requirements,” she concludes.

READ THE FULL REPORT:
Procurement’s vital role in making ESG strategy a reality

Through in-depth surveys and interviews with more than 1,000 Business Leaders and Procurement Professionals, we sought to understand the true state of the ESG agenda and its relationship to Procurement and Procurement Professionals.

Read the full report