Environmental Nonprofit Builds Supplier Diversity and Sustainability to Meet Climate Change Goals

Client Snapshot


This global nonprofit is recognised as one of the most effective and wide-reaching environmental organisations in the world, with a significant impact around the globe.


Client Situation

To lead the way among nonprofits in pursuing its long-term strategic goals, this client sought to make the diversity and sustainability performance of its supplier base more transparent by screening suppliers on key diversity and environmental sustainability criteria.


Work Performed

Protiviti supported changes to our client’s purchasing processes and tools to attain diversity and sustainability goals, starting with setting targets and ultimately delivering a solution to capture supplier data and track attainments.



The client transformed its purchasing operations to more effectively manage progress toward its supplier diversity and sustainability goals.


From noble goals to attainable objectives

Our client felt strongly: since it is in the business of fighting climate change, the organisation should lead the way among nonprofits by transforming operations to provide greater transparency about the diverse composition and sustainability performance of its supplier base. The group developed diversity and sustainability goals and committed to achieving them by 2030: the conclusion of the United Nations’ Decade of Action. To make that happen, this conservation leader sought to translate its mission-driven goals into operational objectives, knowing its conduct would demonstrate that its internal processes aligned with its own mission and values. Leadership wanted to establish a global purchasing capability to identify, source and procure from a diverse, sustainable supply base that reflected the organisation’s mission, core values and conservation goals. They wanted to identify and select diverse and sustainable suppliers, so they enlisted Protiviti to help translate long-term strategic objectives into tactics supported by a new purchasing programme. These supplier diversity and sustainability efforts encompassed everything from defining targets through conducting testing and developing training for a new solution.

The leader and the team

Our client’s director of purchasing established and led an all-new sustainability and diversity team that included internal resources and experts from Protiviti to support the internal changes needed to accomplish the nonprofit’s vision. This director held a visionary role, prioritising and implementing several forward-thinking programmes. Rather than viewing purchasing transformation as merely nice-to-have, he saw it as critical to the organisation’s diversity and sustainability efforts and ensured regular steering committee scrutiny for strong visibility and sponsorship.

This leader was supported by colleagues in supplier relationship and sustainability management, as well as by diversity, equity, and inclusion stakeholders. While the team initially included external experts to support supply chain and operations procurement transformation, contributors later encompassed technology professionals to guide solution implementation.

Delivering a new global purchasing process

Together, we worked to achieve what many consider the hardest aspect of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. While many organisations have made progress reducing their own emissions, and even with reducing emissions generated from their energy consumption, this nonprofit wanted to make major attainments in a more challenging arena: reducing over 40% of GHG emissions incurred from the purchased goods and services value chain by 2030. At the same time, the organisation established yearly targets to build a more diverse supplier base, engaging diverse, indigenous and local vendors, to support attaining long-term goals.

To kick off solution design, the team took a fresh look at the existing purchasing process. The criteria by which the nonprofit had been assessing suppliers followed a traditional business approach: awarding most business to the lowest-cost suppliers. It was time to review best practices for evaluating suppliers not only by cost, but also by each vendor’s environmental sustainability and diversity principles. We:

  • Surveyed conservationist and environmental nonprofit peers.
  • Studied leading corporations with hefty budgets, knowing organisations with more to spend more often drove change via their purchasing.
  • Reviewed benchmarks in supplier databases, but also reviewed thought leadership from peers and leaders from other fields.

These efforts generated new ideas about supplier selection criteria and helped us create a robust supplier questionnaire.

When the team turned its attention to tool selection, they knew they wanted a modern system to collect and validate responses, maintain data integrity and use the information to track key performance indicators in real time. Tools like these also enable organisations to evaluate metrics; in this case, carbon dioxide-equivalents of GHG emitted per dollar spent, so the client could understand if their purchasing transformation made a true impact – and sufficient progress over time toward their 2030 goals.

Our client selected OneTrust from a range of prospective tools Protiviti recommended. They were already using the platform in other contexts, so this project was merely an extension of an existing implementation. As one of Protiviti’s formal alliance partners, OneTrust’s special relationship with Protiviti supported more efficient solution delivery.

Following target-setting, solution design and tool selection, the client asked Protiviti to remain on board to support implementation and testing. Efforts began with building out the questionnaire in OneTrust, planning to test the questionnaire, evaluating it for proper functioning and data integrity and guiding user acceptance efforts. The team wanted to be sure the tool worked well for its internal users and for suppliers: were the questions the right questions? Was the length of the questionnaire appropriate? Final feedback supported perfection of the design. In parallel, the team created training for suppliers to support a go-live by the end of 2023.

By enabling a more equitable, sustainable purchasing practice, this client enhanced value on mission-driven projects and reinforced its brand as a conservation leader.

Enabling sustainable and equitable practices

Our client was determined to lead the way in diversity and sustainability performance in their purchasing operations. By enabling a more equitable and sustainable purchasing practice, they were able to enhance their value on mission-driven projects, in the impact of daily operations, and as a conservation leader. By transforming their supplier selection approach, they enabled new insights into their own sustainability and diversity objectives. Demonstrable progress in these areas will, they know, align operational behavior with the organisations’ mission and demonstrate commitment to their core values and conservation goals.