A number of organizations (26 people and 16 companies, to be exact) recently took part in a Summit at MIT exploring environmental sustainable supply chain topics. For more information on the highlights from the proceedings, see Navigating the Bumpy Road to Sustainability. Reading through the summary of these highlights (including participant opportunities and concerns) is fascinating to say the least. I’ll share some of them below – and encourage you to read the whole story:
“One of the challenges that came under the microscope was how to set appropriate goals, collect the right metrics to measure progress against those goals, and report progress to customers and the public. A hot topic that emerged during the metrics discussion was whether sustainability metrics are linked with job performance. The attending companies were split 50/50 on this issue.”
The PR battle is never won around issues of supply chain risk and sustainability, and it certainly can be lost. To wit, “many enterprises live in fear of their practices being attacked publically by NGOs or external stakeholders. However, there was an active discussion on the role of NGOs and consortia in providing both expertise and dialogue forums around practices to increase environmental sustainability in supply chains.”
Visibility (and technology) can help overcome a range of challenges while reducing risk. “Companies increasingly need greater supply chain visibility to understand environmental impacts and risks, and to protect themselves and improve their environmental standing.”
Multi-tier matters: “Many enterprises at the event have good visibility into tier 1 suppliers, but very limited contact or knowledge when it comes to tier 2, 3 or deeper suppliers. While some companies are mapping their operations voluntarily, impending regulatory requirements such as conflict minerals tracing measures in the Dodd-Frank Act, are forcing enterprises to establish more transparency in their supply chains. This class of regulation encourages companies to better understand the depth of their supply chains beyond conflict minerals.”
Take innovative approaches that might seem counterintuitive. “For example, a consumer products manufacturer has actually opened up its IP on an innovation in order to promote wider adoption, increase economies of scale, and reduce the price. Conversations around the innovation topic included the move towards radical transparency and intra-industry sharing of methodologies, and the embedding of environmental sustainability in product design and across the supply chain.”
The findings to come out of this event – at least the summaries from the Supply Chain Summit blog – only scratch the surface of a number of topics that we’re equally as passionate about as are the participating members in the event.
We encourage practitioners who attended the summit and others to reach out to us for a free trial to our supplier management and supply chain risk research including: