Margot Sfeir
Margot Sfeir
Director, Strategic Accounts, ELEVATE
Rachel Brinkenhoff
Director, Client Services, ELEVATE

Published: 1 October 2020

Published: 1 October 2020

Margot Sfeir - Director, Strategic Accounts, ELEVATE
Rachel Brinkenhoff - Director, Client Services, ELEVATE

Preparing for the 2021 Budget and Three-Year plan

A new season is upon us, as evidenced by (remote) back-to-school, falling leaves, pumpkin spice everything, and preparation for the 2021 budget cycle.

This has been a year unlike any other. As Corporate Responsibility professionals we are left wondering what really matters, and how might we change our program’s approach to drive improvement while using resources efficiently. Now is the time to build out a 2021 budget that provides the necessary resources to effectively manage your program.

While budgets may be tightening, sustainability is more important than ever for consumers, according to a recent BCG survey. The expectation is that Responsibility Sourcing programs figure out a way to do more with the same, or less. At ELEVATE we are increasingly seeing brands and retailers move toward a more strategic and risk-based approach to sourcing, one that prioritizes using a company’s influence to drive for maximum impact. ELEVATE’s Customer team is supporting clients to respond to dramatically different business priorities in the upcoming budget cycle. We are asking questions and thinking through what tools and processes will support a proactive programmatic approach, which of these tools is feasible for the business based on supply chain and economic challenges, and what are the longer-term goals. We have put together some questions to ask as you plan for 2021.

Risk identification

What are the emerging legal, sourcing, or business challenges that your Responsible Sourcing Program is helping to solve? Do these require additional resources to adequately support existing and emerging risks such as:

  • Forced labor and related Withhold Release Orders and OFAC sanctions,
  • Diversity and equality,
  • Supply chain stability, and
  • Increased media scrutiny?

What recurring or emerging supply chain risks require greater attention?

  • Wage gap
  • Foreign migrant workers
  • Tier 2 suppliers and traceability
  • Facility COVID-19 readiness
  • Unauthorized subcontracting
  • Responsible procurement

Risk assessment

COVID-19 continues to place limitations on our ability to conduct onsite audits. What other assessment options exist for engaging suppliers and monitoring working conditions? Have you considered:

  • Data-driven risk assessments,
  • Supplier segmentation,
  • Remote monitoring,
  • Virtual training or eLearning, or
  • Mutual audit recognition?


  • What public commitments have you made, and what are your related goals for the next year?
  • Do any of your original goals need to adjust to the changing times?
  • What budget line items are critical to meet these goals?

Worker Engagement

  • It is important to ensure that workers have a voice and can raise concerns through appropriate channels.  How are you and your suppliers gathering information that can be hard to detect in a traditional audit?
  • Are you or your suppliers seeking out insights from vulnerable workers, such as migrant workers?

Program Management

Do you have insight into anticipated vendor and factory turnover?  If you expect your supply chain to grow or contract, are there ways to simplify:

  • New factory/vendor onboarding, and
  • Factory retrenchment?

Are there elements of your program that can be outsourced to improve efficiencies and reduce the burden on internal teams such as:

  • New factory on-boarding,
  • Audit review and CAP management,
  • In-factory assessments or improvement work, or
  • Other administrative tasks that take you away from focusing on 2021 goals and priorities.

Wherever you are in your responsible sourcing journey, the ELEVATE team is here to help you put forward solutions that are dynamic, fit for purpose, and that set the business up for future success.

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These blogs are written by ELEVATE staff members or associates and the views and opinions expressed are not necessarily those of ELEVATE.

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