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A Conversation with Coupa's CEO: Instilling Purpose and ESG Strategy into the Supply Chain

By Daryl Brewster and Rob Bernshteyn, CEO, CECP and CEO & Chairman, Coupa Software

A conversation with Daryl Brewster, CEO, CECP, and Rob Bernshteyn, CEO & Chairman, Coupa Software

Daryl: Rob, thanks for taking the time to talk with us. You’ve served as Chairman & CEO of Coupa Software since early 2009. You’ve seen a shift, especially in the last few years, in how companies define their purpose. Share how Coupa is helping companies to take on this transformation and do more on environmental, social, and governance priorities.

Rob: Helping our customers achieve their corporate mission is at the heart of our own mission. We enable them to do well in their business. And we’re just as focused on empowering them to do good. Helping our customers meet and exceed ESG goals is central to what we do.

That’s the why – but let’s talk about the how.

Today, Coupa maximizes the value of almost $4 trillion in global business spend. Through our cloud-based Business Spend Management platform, we leverage data – aggregated and anonymously – from more than 2,500 customers and 8 million suppliers. With Coupa, companies make spend decisions about their suppliers not just based on price or availability, but also on factors that tie directly to ESG goals.

For example, our Supplier Diversity Dashboard gives companies new insights into supply networks and helps them take positive action with their business spend. We enable companies to reduce carbon emissions through supply chain modeling. Our purpose-built apps allow you to run models on demand, try hundreds of new scenarios, and interact in real-time to make smarter, more sustainable decisions. For example, evaluating supply routes based on emissions to serve and costs to serve.

The results: Our customers have shifted billions in spend to small and diverse suppliers. They’ve made faster progress toward carbon neutrality.

But we believe we can do more. That’s why we’re excited to be a part of CECP. We look forward to new ideas and new innovations coming from our partnership.

Daryl: When it comes to supplier diversity, we’ve seen all kinds of data showing that there’s so much opportunity for improvement in supplier diversity programs. Either these initiatives are just starting out or they have significant blindspots. But, no matter their stage, almost all of them seem to still be figuring out what it means to have a successful supplier diversity program. How is Coupa helping?

Rob: I grew up in an immigrant community in New York. My parents brought us to the United States when I was six. It was a rough time and a rough neighborhood. But it equally was amazing to walk through the community and hear and see the diverse cultures that were woven into the fabric of New York.

Similarly, at Coupa, we believe there is strength in diversity.

We all agree that supplier diversity is essential to meet a company’s diversity, equity, and inclusion goals. These programs benefit minority and underrepresented business owners by increasing economic activity and opening doors to bigger opportunities.

Coupa is committed to helping companies engage with certified minority-, woman-, veteran- and LGBTQ+-owned suppliers. And we have one of the largest databases of diverse suppliers that feeds directly into the platform. We help customers filter by diversity-status when searching for a new supplier. We help companies customize RFPs for sourcing events, requiring diverse-owned businesses to be included. And we can make it happen in a moment, with a couple of clicks. A company can begin to transform its supply chain and make DEI progress all in less than 60 seconds. That’s powerful.

And today’s companies need to understand how they stack in relation to their peers. They need to be able to report on progress to their Boards, investors, and government agencies. Coupa helps here, too, not only with benchmarking, but also through prescriptive insights to help influence more diverse supplier spend. It’s all done through anonymized global data analysis built into our platform with what we call

In 2021, best-in-class companies devoted nearly a quarter of all of their spend to diverse suppliers. We expect to see that number continue to climb.

Daryl: With expanding ESG regulations and mandates around the world, Sustainable Business Spend Management seems especially relevant. What’s your vision going forward?

Rob: It’s audacious to say, but it’s true: Coupa believes that Sustainable Business Spend Management can help to solve some of our world’s biggest challenges.

For certain, government ESG mandates drive part of this change. But the best companies are ahead of any government regulation. And that’s where Sustainable BSM makes a difference. We provide customers with tailored supplier risk assessments for supply chain due diligence. We surface key supplier risk, compliance, and environmental data, for example, when conducting sourcing events and in supply chain digital twins, enabling proper vetting to ensure compliance before contracts are signed.

We’re working with one of Europe’s largest manufacturers, which has a goal of being carbon neutral by 2050. Through Sustainable BSM, they are optimizing supply chains and focusing on cutting carbon emissions. As a result, the company is ahead of target, with transport-related emissions down by as much as 20 percent.

Daryl: Last question. We’ve talked about the power of community and the exponential impact that companies can have if they unite their insights and actions. Share how you see this united community making a difference.

Rob: Global GDP is approaching $100 trillion – a 195% increase in just 20 years. Imagine a world where that business spend is focused not only on profit, but also ESG progress.

Think what that would do for our common effort to combat climate change, how it would open doors of opportunity to underrepresented communities, and how we could create more value across the economy, from ideation to creation to consumer.

That exponential impact is the united power of sustainable business spend.