Corporate Social Responsibility in the Supply Chain

Social responsibility has always been a concern of business, but is now perhaps much more discussed and used as an advantage. Society as a whole wants to know how business is helping farmers, local culture, and the planet at large. This is a very big consideration when it comes to supply chain. One need only remember the flap that occurred when an Apple supplier was seen as treating their employees poorly. As businesses grow, the importance of how their supply chains manage their work becomes even more important, as David Blanchard explains: An entire cottage industry of auditors and consultants has emerged to advise manufacturers on the numerous regulatory efforts in place or on the horizon, and virtually every industry sector has its own “green” initiatives and causes (e.g., free range, conflict-free minerals, Fairtrade, LEED, etc.). Companies are expected to be able to track the carbon footprint not only of their own manufacturing activities, but also their transportation, distribution and procurement activities, while monitoring the related activities of their extended supply chains as well. They're also expected to adhere to diversity and inclusion in their hiring practices. That's not to say, of course, that all CSR reports are created equal, especially when it comes to nailing down exactly how a manufacturer reports its CSR activities. Companies that excel in the third P of the triple bottom line — profit — tend to be rewarded by Wall Street even if they come up a bit short on the people and planet side. However, such is the momentum toward full disclosure that even the biggest and most successful companies are being held accountable by stakeholders for incomplete reporting. The article goes on to cite companies that took different steps to achieve social responsibility, from one that tracked the very farm that it received its palm oil from to another that assured all of its ingredients, packaging, and supply chain was fair trade. These companies not only provided a service to the planet, but also made them more appealing to an increasingly social minded customer.  

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