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Removing friction from Corporate Social Responsibility

Paper invoices not only waste the resources of businesses that issue and process them, they also produce material waste that affects everyone. The environmental consequences of paper invoices have been well documented—the pulp and paper industry is the biggest water polluter in most industrialized nations, as well as one of the leading contributors to global warming pollution.

Thankfully, P2P automation mitigates this issue by removing a huge amount of paper from the environment—we’ve estimated that Tungsten Network alone has saved over 253 million sheets of paper or 30,429 trees to date, and over 107,397 pounds of air pollutants.

But the environmental benefits of digitization extend beyond invoicing, allowing businesses to manage their production processes more efficiently and eliminating waste in manufacturing. That’s important from a business standpoint because consumers increasingly want to understand the complete environmental impact of the products they purchase.

Indeed, consumers and environmental organizations, spurred by stories of supply chain abuses, have called for greater traceability. In the past, these demands might have been deemed unrealistic or impractical. In the current environment, however, changes are underway.

In a move towards greater digital transparency, the U.S. National Resources Defense Council and China’s Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs recently launched an online map that publicly links corporations to their Suppliers’ environmental compliance. This first-of-its-kind tool allows users to check the emissions standards of brand suppliers in China, as well as factory performance information. Although participation is voluntary, six of the world’s largest consumer brands, including Esprit, Gap, Inditex, New Balance, PUMA and Target, are participating in the project.

The standardization of environmental performance is also underway. B Corporations—for-profit companies that pass rigorous social and environmental performance standards, similar to LEED in building design—are gaining interest among business leaders. The online database maintained by non-profit B-Lab lists over 2,100 Certified B Corps from 50 countries striving to build a more sustainable and transparent future, including global brands like Unilever (a Tungsten Network client).

Digitization makes ethical initiatives like this possible, and all parties seem poised to benefit. Buyers and Suppliers can be proudly confident that their supply chains are sustainable. Consumers can make more intelligent choices and reward more responsible business decisions. In this way, higher expectations, a better brand image, and a more productive rapport go hand in hand with the increase in efficiency that comes with digital transformation.

It’s clear that many companies are embracing the idea that what’s good for the environment is also good for the bottom line. For these businesses, the migration from paper-based processes to automated systems isn’t merely enabling greater efficiencies; it’s also reducing environmental impact, helping them manage their corporate social responsibilities, and allowing them to give their customers access to the information they need. Digital transformation not only helps businesses contribute to environmental sustainability; it helps sustain the trust of their customers and the public.

Corporate social responsibility isn’t merely about cleaning up the environmental impact of business—we require corporations to behave like good citizens in every respect. Among other things, we expect businesses to accurately collect and pay taxes that are due the government. Here again, strides are being made thanks to digitization. Tungsten’s platform is one example of how the process can be made fraud proof, by enabling Buyer and country rules checks on submitted invoice data, before invoices are even created. In reducing the possibility of fraud to almost zero, automation not only helps Buyers reduce the risk of making duplicate payments or processing fake invoices, it ensures a more exemplary environment in which business can operate, and from which society as a whole can benefit.

About the author

Connie O'Brien

As CMO, Connie is responsible for the Tungsten Network brand and ensuring the firm is at the forefront of the digital transformation of the purchase-to-pay process, with a focus on how we delight our customers through automated, scalable, dynamic and personalised experiences. Connie joined Tungsten from Affinion Group, an international membership and loyalty company where she was Chief Digital Officer. She has over twenty years’ experience driving digital marketing strategies for businesses, and has delivered campaigns for brands including GlaxoSmithKline, P&G, Kraft Foods, AXA, John Hancock, AT&T, Vonage and Verizon.

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