Guest Post: GEMI Working Toward Greater Harmonization of Supply Chain Sustainability Efforts

Today’s guest post on supply chain sustainability comes from Mary Beth Jordan, founder and principal of MBJ Strategies LLC.  This post originally appeared on LinkedIn.

By: Mary Beth Jordan

Companies have made great strides improving the environmental performance of their own operations, and have expanded the scope of their sustainability efforts to include the impacts and opportunities within their supply chains. Many are seeking ways to better understand the sustainability performance of their suppliers, while responding to similar requests from their customers.

These requests typically are in the form of supplier surveys and audits, but there is a lack of common expectations for supply chain sustainability. Companies are left to craft their own format for gathering data, adopt a survey or audit tool developed by an industry association, or utilize one of a growing number of the third-party supply chain sustainability data platforms. The objectives of these efforts are often similar, but format and content can be quite different.

With the leadership of 3M and P&G and support from MBJ Strategies, the Global Environmental Management Initiative (GEMI) completed a Supply Chain Sustainability Landscape Assessment in 2016 to better understand efforts across industry sectors, including commonalities/differences in requirements, best practices, and mutual recognition of other approaches. We narrowed a list of 25 organizations addressing supply chain sustainability to 10 organizations that had developed supplier surveys.

The findings are noteworthy. Of the 35 environmental, social and governance questionnaire criteria assessed, 17 criteria were addressed by eight of the ten surveys. While half of the criteria were in common, the scope of the questions and level of detail varied greatly.

There needs to be greater harmonization across the collective efforts!

In November 2016 GEMI hosted a workshop with key industry organizations to share industry-specific approaches to harmonization. Dialog led to the identification of additional issues that need to be addressed.

We are now planning to develop a high-level strategic map depicting industry-specific supply chain sustainability harmonization efforts along with several third-party data platforms to create a global picture of the breadth of activities, many of which overlap. The map will include reference to guiding principles used by the respective organizations to shape their initiatives, and illustrate connection points across efforts. Brief case studies will be developed examining why and how data in selected efforts is used for business-decision making.

Building on those findings, project participants and key industry stakeholders will work to define foundational elements that need to be addressed when engaging in supply chain sustainability evaluation activities, such as supplier audits and surveys. The goal of the GEMI effort will be to identify industry-supported, common principles that companies and broader industry stakeholder groups may use to guide the process for evaluating suppliers regarding sustainability criteria.

I’m looking forward to working with GEMI and project participants to dig into why companies collect supply chain sustainability data and what they hope to accomplish. I believe there is great value in defining basic principles which should apply to these data collection efforts. Aren’t we all after the same thing – relevant data that informs procurement decisions and a process that isn’t too cumbersome? Let’s sharpen our focus and then use this as the foundation to assess how well current data collection tools help companies achieve desired outcomes.

Mary Beth Jordan is the founder and principal of MBJ Strategies LLC.

Want to learn more about how to participate in this effort? Please contact us to learn more.

Sealed Air’s Soap for Hope™ Program Awarded Prestigious Honor in China

Tuesday, January 3, 2017 – 11:00am

The first “Value Co-Creation” Outstanding Corporate Social Responsibility Practices in China award ceremony was recently held at Fudan University in  December, 2016. Sealed Air’s Soap for Hope™ program won the Vote of Excellence Award with a significant majority.

The selection of best CSR case studies was sponsored by Fudan University School of Management, the well-known Human Resources management company CIIC Guanaitong and Beijing SynTao Information Co., Ltd. It is the first evaluation program for social value creation case studies that is dominated by academic institutions in China. The award focused on the standards of global sustainable development, business innovation, and social value creation.  Experts from well-known domestic universities voted for the top 50 case studies. Only three of the submitted case studies won the honor of the annual Value Co-Creation Excellence Award. Sealed Air’s Soap for Hope program best exemplifies China’s development trend towards creating shared value for society with programs that benefit both corporations and communities. Through the Soap for Hope program hotel properties collect, repurpose, and distribute discarded soap in their local communities along with hygiene education.  The other two projects that won the Excellence Awards were “Cow School” from YiLi and “Yi Nong Dai” from CreditEase.

Shen Hong, Vice President and Greater China Managing Director, and Ivy Zhang, Greater China Human Resources Director from Sealed Air China attended the award ceremony. Hong made a speech at the awards ceremony to share Sealed Air’s experience in the region, and also highlighted the importance of sustainability in the Company’s strategy. Once it was set up in China, the Soap for Hope program developed rapidly because it was a win-win program that created mutual benefits for CSR partners by improving people’s lives and creating significant shared value.

Soap for Hope partners include hotel properties, NGO’s and their beneficiaries, and employees of both Sealed Air and the participating hotel properties.  Hotel participants strongly identify with the program’s ability to create value for both the hotel by reducing their waste and increasing their ability to give back to the local community in which they operate.  NGO’s and their beneficiaries receive numerous opportunities from Soap for Hope, one example including giving locally disabled community residents the chance to improve their job skills and integrate into society more fully. Employees from Sealed Air connect the customers, NGOs, beneficiaries and employees together to create a strong partnership, allowing the program to continue its growth across regions and hotel properties.

Many judges for the award commented on the strength of the program and the impact it has on local communities.  “The amount of used soap from many hotels one year is very impressive. Not only can the project reduce waste to protect the environment, but it also provides employment to the disabled. The social value created is significant,” said one award judge. Through this process, Sealed Air, NGOs and disabled people have established synergies and achieved remarkable results. As a global public benefit project, Sealed Air is able to tailor its approach to local conditions and demonstrate its ability to innovate in the process.

Soap for Hope is committed to improving health, supporting livelihoods and reducing waste. Sealed Air professional technology, staff, customers, and social welfare groups benefit from the program. Disabled people are trained to recycle soaps provided by hotels.  They use simple tools to sterilize and reprocess used soaps, which are then distributed to needy groups and children in remote areas.

The global program was founded in 2013. Soap for Hope began in China in 2014, and since then has recycled 10 tons of used soap and made 40,000 pieces of recycled soap for distribution back into local communities.  The Soap for Hope program is just one way Sealed Air is acting out its corporate vision of “creating a better way for life”, by implementing a sustainable development strategy into the  enterprise and societal activities to create shared value.

– See more at:

GEMI members board cleanup river barge and analyze cross-industry supply chain sustainability efforts

Meeting kicks off with Living Lands & Waters cleanup effort on the Ohio River, members address multiple industry supply chain sustainability harmonization initiatives

Washington, DC – The Global Environmental Management Initiative (GEMI), the global leader in developing insights, networking and creating collaborative sustainability solutions for business, convened its membership aboard the Living Lands & Waters floating classroom barge in Louisville on Nov. 15-16. After spending an afternoon cleaning up trash from the Ohio River, the group discussed supply chain sustainability harmonization and identified potential opportunities to promote harmonization across industries.

“Our organization is dedicated to driving sustainability solutions for business and finding ways to collaborate through our efforts, so we were thrilled to have an opportunity to work with Living Lands & Waters on a river cleanup as part of our meeting in Louisville,” said Steve Hellem, executive director, GEMI. “Meeting on Living Lands & Waters classroom barge provided our members a truly unique forum to discuss how certain industries are managing supply chain sustainability and to seek opportunities to work across industries to address common goals.”

Sustainability representatives from maritime shipping, pharmaceutical, aerospace, plastics and chemical industry organizations shared learnings from their industry-led initiatives on supply chain sustainability. Speakers included Dawn Krueger, 3M; Nate Springer, BSR; Steven Meszaros, Pfizer; Maribeth Malloy, Lockheed Martin; Kendra Martin, The Plastics Industry Trade Association; Daniel Perry, EcoVadis; Tom Tyler, US EPA; and Mary Beth Jordan, MBJ Strategies.

Additionally, Mary Beth Jordan provided an overview of GEMI’s supply chain sustainability project findings to date, including the results of a Landscape Assessment that summarizes the supply chain sustainability efforts of 25 organizations.

“Supply chain sustainability has been a core focus of GEMI’s efforts in 2016, and learning more about the buyer/supplier relationship can help all of us bring better visibility to industry supply chain sustainability efforts and ensure we’re giving partners the data they need to meet common goals,” said Bill Gill, AVP, Environmental Affairs, Smithfield Foods and GEMI Chair. “There’s an opportunity for GEMI to help existing industry groups with supply chain sustainability projects by mapping out the connections among efforts, and we plan to do this in the new year.”

For more information about GEMI, membership benefits and upcoming meetings, visit or email GEMI’s Executive Director, Steve Hellem:

About GEMI

GEMI is the global leader in developing insights, networking, and creating collaborative sustainability solutions for business. For 25 years, GEMI has captured the vision and experience of global corporate environmental, health and safety (EHS) and sustainability leaders from diverse business sectors through the development of a wide range of publicly-available, solutions-based tools designed to help companies improve the environment, their operations and add business value.

More Information Contact:

Monica MacKay: 262-563-5665