Brendan Lonergan (M Business 2006) is the CEO of Beehive Industries - a Not-For-Profit (NFP) social enterprise in Darlinghurst, Sydney, delivering high quality packaging, assembly, commercial printing and fulfilment solutions for clients while providing socially disadvantaged people a place to connect and achieve a sense of purpose.
Beehive Industries currently supports around 250 seniors, persons with disability and the long-term unemployed.
In 2019, Brendan was awarded the UTS Alumni Award (Community) in recognition of his years of service to Beehive and the NFP sector more broadly raising the awareness and utilisation of social procurement.
Deloitte define social procurement as “the concept of using your organisational purchasing power to generate positive social outcomes.” While social procurement is not new, it is through champions such as Brendan and others that it is gaining momentum as both governments and businesses increasingly recognise the power that their spend has to create positive social change. In its simplest form, social procurement occurs when organisations select to purchase from a social enterprise in order to create positive social outcomes.
“Social procurement is making a social impact in combination with your business decision,” says Brendan.
“We (Beehive) do a lot of work for Telstra. They made a business decision to support us by directing some of their procurement to us. We won Telstra’s business on merit, providing a commercially competitive tailored solution to build and pack Telstra’s $2 pre-paid SIM starter kits and in later years other kitting services as the business relationship expanded. Beehive was able to provide a proof of concept and has ultimately delivered over and above Telstra’s expectations as they invested in building the capabilities of their people and processes in the relationships with their partners,” adds Brendan.
But the Beehive – Telstra partnership creates deep social impact too.
“It not only gives the people we support work activity and a sense of purpose and involvement, but it also gives the organisation, Telstra, an opportunity to participate in something where they’re really making a wonderful difference in society – and importantly, we are fulfilling a business need for the organisation at a commercially competitive price.”
The business need is apparent with procurement in Australia estimated to be approximately $600 billion so if a percentage of our procurement was directed to the NFP sector and organisations such as Social Traders, NDS BuyAbility program, Supply Nation and Beehive Industries, the commercial benefits along with the social impacts would profound.
Ecovadis and HEC, in 2017, surveyed 120 US and European companies in their 7th Sustainable Procurement Barometer and found businesses who used sustainable procurement reported:
Additionally, Deloitte found for every $100,000 spent on social procurement, 1.5 jobs are created for disadvantaged Australians.
For governments, social procurement acts as a strategic tool that leverages existing public funds to deliver targeted social value, helping them achieve broader government objectives, such employment and social inclusion, without requiring additional funding.
For corporations, social procurement can serve as an effective way to achieve corporate social responsibility (CSR) objectives and strengthen their social license to operate.
For consumers, knowing the source and inputs to your goods and services is increasingly commonplace. We are demanding more from the brands we buy, as well as rewarding those whose services and products are both good for them and good for society.
Brendan Lonergan summarises what can be done.
“What we are trying to do is to get people and organisations to start on their social procurement journey; big and small organisations to start engaging and telling people about their involvement in social procurement. Suddenly, we’ve got a much wider audience of people having a look and saying: ‘hang on a second, this makes commercial sense and adds societal value’, and we start to get some momentum.”
For More Information
Social Impact Organisations – Buy for Impact
UTS Alumni Awards
Social Justice at UTS