Is corporate social responsibility (CSR) making its way onto procurement executives' "to do" lists? If it isn't, it should be. In today's closely-connected world, digital media make it easier than ever for consumers to make their voices heard, and these consumers favor brands identified with social responsibility.

While definitions abound, CSR is widely understood to entail compliance with ethical and regulatory standards, promoting accountability for an organization's actions that can lead to a positive impact on the communities and markets in which it operates. Organizations across the world are grappling with these issues and how their conduct impacts internal and external stakeholders. And procurement is especially affected, with regulatory requirements demanding an ever-increasing CSR role.

For a typical global procurement organization with thousands of multi-tier suppliers spread across the world, this additional responsibility poses a challenge. Executives are faced with the unenviable task of finding resources within an already lean procurement function to assess, monitor and support their suppliers. Moreover, they must devise an effective course of action in an emergent area where they may lack structured processes. Incorporating CSR into a company's procurement function demands that the right people, processes and technology infrastructure are put in place.