Developing Common Principles for Supply Chain Sustainability

We have heard from many corporate sustainability leaders regarding the challenges they face in efficiently managing a wide variety of different expectations for addressing supply chain sustainability.

Many are seeking ways to better understand the sustainability performance of companies within their supply chain while responding to similar requests from their own customers.

While the overall objectives of such efforts are often similar, their format, content and value are typically quite different.

Earlier this year, we worked with the Global Environmental Management Initiative (GEMI)’s Supply Chain Sustainability Work Group to evaluate different supply chain sustainability principles established by various industry organizations (including industries such as aerospace, apparel, chemical, consumer goods, electronic, pharmaceutical, plastics and utility) and third-party organizations (such as CDP, Ecodesk, EcoVadis, Manufacture 2030, Sedex, Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council, The Sustainability Consortium and others).

GEMI’s goal in this work was to develop a simple framework that companies and industry stakeholder groups can use to guide the process for engaging suppliers regarding sustainability, advance strategic collaborations and promote increased alignment across industry-focused supply chain sustainability initiatives.

GEMI workshop (2017)

To better understand which principles for evaluating supplier sustainability performance may be most relevant across industries, GEMI convened a workshop this past summer and facilitated engagement with a variety of companies, industry associations, and 3rd party providers. Through that workshop and various follow-up discussions, we began to identify a core set of common elements that business leaders across industries reported to be essential when engaging their suppliers on sustainability.

We’re excited to now share the following GEMI Responsible Supply Chain Guiding Principles which are a direct result of those conversations. We continue to see a proliferation of new and different expectations for supplier sustainability performance, and believe there is an opportunity to promote further coordination across efforts while enhancing focus on tangible results that drive long-term business value. Our hope is that these Guiding Principles will provide a useful framework for GEMI members and other organizations in furthering such efforts.

We’re looking forward to working with GEMI on the next phase of this work in 2018, and welcome your thoughts and ideas on the following Responsible Supply Chain Guiding Principles.

GEMI Responsible Supply Chain Guiding Principles

Accountability: The buyer/supplier relationship is a partnership and should be built on shared responsibility and commitment to exemplary/good practices.

Collaboration: Engagement with suppliers should focus on actionable outcomes, and be viewed as an opportunity to drive innovation and continuously improve the sustainability performance of both buyers and suppliers.

Commitment to Shared Value: It is important to clearly define the strategic purpose for engaging suppliers, while being mindful of culture and maturity, and seeking opportunities for mutual value creation throughout the process.

Inform Decision-Making: Information gathered through buyer/supplier engagements should inform business decision-making, and be utilized to reduce risk, differentiate, innovate and add value for all involved stakeholders.

Relevance: Customers and suppliers should identify those aspects of sustainability performance most relevant to both the buyer’s internal goals and objectives, and those most applicable to the supplier given its sector, size and location.

Scalability: For solutions to be scalable across global supply chains, it is important that they be aligned with existing systems/standards, and provide a usable framework that promotes sustainable outcomes. Opportunities to reduce duplication and increase shared value through mutual recognition of assessments and/or audits should be considered whenever possible.

Transparency: Buyer/Supplier relationships should be built on trust and require clear communication and education on sustainability expectations, including expectations around traceability of data, while maintaining confidential and proprietary business information

View this post from GEMI Program Manager Kellen Mahoney on LinkedIn.

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