Drafting a Procurement Policy



October 02, 2017

Photo from B Corp Retreat outlining need for interdependence.OpenConcept is a pretty small company and most of our services we consume are digital, so in the scheme of things, we have a pretty small footprint on our planet and our local economy. That being said, as Mahatma Gandhi said “Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it."

I just returned from my second B Corp Champions Retreat and I am even more enthusiastic about being able to leverage our small contributions to make a much bigger impact. I believe strongly in fixing the problems at the source, and many of our societal problems boil down to consumption patterns. The theme this year was Interdependence and it had a strong focus on becoming more inclusive organizations. This photo was the output of a discussion on how B Corp can work more closely together.

I feel strongly that changes to procurement practices can have a huge influence on our planet and the communities we live in. I've been collecting examples where organizations are using procurement to increase the number of women owned businesses and Certified B Corporations. I've also highlighted how procurement policies can help influence the adoption of open source and open standards. Finally, I've highlighted how accessibility challenges need to start with procurement. 

These are living documents so please let me know if you have any ideas to improve them. They are published on GitHub as both an example of how this repository can be useful for policy development and because I really want to have other people do pull requests to add new resources and improve the examples that I have provided.

We also need to lead by example and outline what OpenConcept adopt and outline how we hope our purchasing choices will help shape the world in which we live. So here it is:

Draft Procurement Policy

OpenConcept will give preference to work with companies that are:

  • Certified B Corporations (B Corp) & Public B Corporations
  • Women & minority owned
  • Carbon neutral, certified organic, fair trade and other sustainable businesses
  • Produce Energy Star–rated products
  • Write open source solutions and provide services with them
  • Small and local business

Where possible we will seek:

  • Sustainable products and services
  • Post-consumer recycled and/or FSC-certified products
  • Carbon-neutral products & services
  • Recyclable/refillable/remanufactured products
  • Products made in Ontario or Quebec
  • Digital tools that meet WCAG 2.0 AA & ATAG 2.0 AA


We acknowledge that this is a long list and that we are not in a position where we can afford to find an adequate solution that meets our needs. We will not be perfect, and will need to continue procuring products which do not meet these ideals. This list is here to remind us of what we should strive for. It is here to remind us to ask questions when we are putting out an RFP, seeking a new vendor or reconsidering an existing one. We may or may not be able to pay a premium for these services. We haven't ranked their relative importance to our business. This list will also change over time.

Ultimately, we are in business and need to make compromises to ensure that we are able to remain in business. Publicly highlighting some of the issues we care about will hopefully encourage other organizations to do the same, and possibly contribute to a more robust, sustainable, progressive business environment.

Please let us know on Twitter if you have any feedback.

About The Author

Mike Gifford is the founder of OpenConcept Consulting Inc, which he started in 1999. Since then, he has been particularly active in developing and extending open source content management systems to allow people to get closer to their content. Before starting OpenConcept, Mike had worked for a number of national NGOs including Oxfam Canada and Friends of the Earth.

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