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Improving Links between Supply Chain and Sustainability

The goals of supply chain and the goals of sustainability should intertwine like a hearty handshake, not a collision of fists. It has been shown that sustainability teams often understand supply chain better than supply chain professionals understand sustainability. In a recent report, 71% of supply chain respondents rated their sustainability peers as understanding their company’s supply chain goals, while only 42% thought their supply chain team understood their corporate sustainability goals. John Davies of GreenBiz writes about the challenges and solutions to getting these two back in sync. A major problem between supply chain and sustainability is that they lack any common goals, processes, or definitions. When the goals of one must be emphasized over the other, supply chain wins more often. Davies cites Supply Chain Insights CEO Lora Cecere in discussing the challenges of meeting twin goals: Cecere points out in the report that the past decade is riddled with the failures of the audit-based approach. Slowly, companies are gaining an understanding that supplier audits are not sufficient. Increasingly, the management of the supplier base is happening through principle-based programs. However, the implementation of this principle-based approach requires the redefinition of the procurement program and the building of a robust supplier development program to design, implement and train suppliers on the expectations. Cecere emphasizes that this will take cooperation and dedication from both the sustainability and the supply chain organizations. And although often more than 70% of resources consumed by manufacturers, retailers, and distributors related to corporate sustainability exist outside company walls, only 20% of respondents are focused on the entire value network. In order to build a sustainable supply chain competency, Davies recommends focusing on metrics definition and alignment with a goal in mind, aligning the supply chain center of excellence on capability building, and actively networking with other thought leaders. This handshake does not require any sophisticated pop and locks. Just showing that mutual concern is enough.

About John Friscia

John Friscia is the Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success. He began working for Computer Aid, Inc. in 2013 and continues to provide graphic design support for AITS. He graduated summa cum laude from Shippensburg University with a B.A. in English.

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