The Sustainability Category

Cobalt and the Sustainability of Electric Vehicles

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Nick Peksa, opportunities director at Mintec.

Recently I have been reading a number of case studies based on some of the world’s leading sustainable and socially responsible firms, ranging from Unilever’s work in Brazil and Danone’s work in India to Vodafone and their mobile payment systems in Kenya. One of the other favorite firms for academic research is Tesla, with its “greener than thou” philosophy. Delving a little deeper into the mechanics of batteries, however, the word “cobalt” rang a number of alarm bells.

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Driving Sustainability and Compliance (Part 3): Managing Multi-Tier Risk and Opportunity

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This post is the last in a three-part series. Click here to read part 1 and part 2.

The process of launching IntegrityNext gave our team an amazing opportunity to connect with supply chain sustainability and compliance managers worldwide. We heard about challenges and targets as well as priorities for today and concerns about tomorrow. Regardless of industry or company size, professionals have immediately engaged, driven by their desire to improve the working and living conditions of supplier organizations and the communities they are based in. One of the questions that we heard most often was about multi-tier supplier sustainability and compliance: what does this mean and why is it important?

New Research: Supply Chain Risks Lurking Behind the Electric Vehicle Boom

Fourteen countries (including the U.S., believe it or not) have joined the Electric Vehicle Initiative, aiming for battery-powered cars, trucks and buses to reach 30% market share by 2030. According to IEA calculations, we would need 600 million electric vehicles globally by 2040 in order to reach the global warming target set by the Paris Agreement. A new report from risk analysis firm Verisk Maplecroft, however, shows that the electric vehicle supply chain is far from devoid of social and even environmental risks. It largely comes down to the raw materials needed for electric vehicles, such as aluminum, cobalt, mica and rubber.

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Driving Sustainability and Compliance (Part 2): The Power of Social Media Voices in the Supply Chain

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This post is the second in a three-part series. Click here to read Part 1.

Social media gives voice to anyone looking for a platform: consumers and corporates, individuals and organizations. By enabling the democratization of instant worldwide communications, services such as Facebook and Twitter have created an overwhelming volume of unstructured data in a short period of time. While the development of social media voices is dynamic and continues to evolve without pause, businesses have yet to tap into its true power. What happens to these spontaneously created bits of data? Who is listening? Is there actionable value in the voices?

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Driving Sustainability and Compliance (Part 1): Disrupting the Paradigm of the ‘Empty App’

As Pierre Mitchell pointed out in an article earlier this year, the vast majority of procurement technology is focused on the capture and containment of information. Supplier information. Product specifications and prices. Spend and transaction details. These are critical categories of information, but they don’t create value or achieve business objectives on their own. For that, procurement needs something more contextualized to its own company’s situation and designed to motivate action.

How Well Are Your Peers Doing in Supply Chain CSR? EcoVadis Releases New Report

If you’re a small or medium-sized construction company, congratulations. Chances are you’re doing pretty well in your supply chain corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives. Likewise if you’re a large company in the financial, legal, consulting and advertising markets. On Tuesday, EcoVadis released its first annual Global CSR Risk and Performance Index, which evaluated 20,400 companies according to 21 criteria related to the environment, labor practices and human rights, fair business ethics and sustainable procurement.

New Report: Are Our Supply Chains Less Responsible Than We Think?

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Corporations are becoming wealthier. As of last year, 69 of the world’s 100 biggest economic entities are not nations but businesses, an increase from 63 in 2015. Can it be argued that those behemoth private sector corporations should be held to stricter procurement regulations and transparency, more like, dare one say, public procurement? This is a question that arises from the findings of a recent report from The Economist Intelligence Unit on supply chain responsibility.

Viscose Suppliers to H&M and Zara Linked to Severe Health and Environmental Hazards

Zara and H&M are among the fast fashion giants that have been found to source viscose from manufacturing sites whose processes pose serious health and environmental dangers, according to a new report from Changing Markets Foundation. When the foundation visited 10 such sites in China, India and Indonesia, it found that untreated hazardous waste was leading to severe air and water pollution, and for people who lived near the manufacturing sites, physical and mental disorders.

EcoVadis: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Competitive and Summary Analysis [PRO]

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In this Spend Matters Vendor Snapshot series, we have been analyzing EcoVadis, a provider of a cloud-based corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability rating and monitoring “Solution” (with a capital “S” to denote a solution that transcends software) for your critical supply chain suppliers. The supplier and buyer friendly platform allows suppliers to self-register, complete a profile customized to them based on their UN ISIC industry code (and country and size), upload all relevant documentation and get assessed/rated for a 12-month period. As we wrote in our last installment of this series: 

“The EcoVadis CSR rating is not a formal certification from a regulatory agency, but the criteria is interestingly built up as a "best of breed" superset of requirements from existing CSR standards such as Global Reporting Initiative, the United Nations Global Compact, and the ISO 26000. This relevance helps improve attractiveness and adoption by organizations who don't want to re-invent the wheel and can use a single rating to also help comply with the other certifications that are in force within their supply chain.”

This final installment of our multipart Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot series covering EcoVadis offers a SWOT analysis, competitive assessment and comparison with other similar and “crossover” providers in the supplier management market which also address ratings, CSR, risk and related initiatives. It also includes a user selection guide and summary evaluation and selection considerations. Part 1 and Part 2 of this PRO research series provide a company and deep-dive solution overview, product strengths and weaknesses and a recommended fit analysis for what types of organizations should consider EcoVadis.

EcoVadis: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths & Weaknesses [PRO]

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The market demand for supplier intelligence and data within procurement continues to increase. Whether it’s supply chain and supplier risk data provided by originators and aggregators or category and supply market based general intelligence offered by analyst-driven models, an increasing number of firms are looking to third parties to augment their internal data gathering and analysis efforts. EcoVadis fits within this supplier intelligence/data (and software) landscape as a cloud-based corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability rating/monitoring solution for global suppliers. To date, it has faced no direct competition for its unique bundling of cloud based software, content and services.

The buyer friendly (and supplier friendly) platform allows suppliers to self-register, complete a profile customized to them based on their UN ISIC code and categories of products or services offered, upload all relevant documentation and get certified for a 12-month period with a CSR certification. EcoVadis builds certifications as a smart superset of CSR mega standards (e.g., Global Reporting Initiative, the United Nations Global Compact, and the ISO 26000), which enables it to be more readily accepted across a buying organization’s customer base.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores EcoVadis’ product strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should consider this provider of supplier intelligence solutions. It also offers a critique (pros/cons) of the user interface. Part 1 of our analysis provided a company and detailed solution overview and a recommend fit list of criteria for firms considering EcoVadis. The third part of this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

Fashion Transparency Index 2017 Released: How Do Your Favorite Brands Rank?

Adidas and Reebok scored the highest and Dior, L.L. Bean and Forever 21 scored among the lowest in this year’s Fashion Transparency Index. The report was released last Monday, the fourth anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse. Just in its second year, the Fashion Transparency Index ranks 100 of the biggest global fashion and apparel brands based on how much information they disclose about their suppliers, supply chain policies, and social and environmental consequences. The methodology was developed with input from a group of more than 20 industry experts and academics.

EcoVadis: Vendor Snapshot (Part 1) — Background & Solution Overview [PRO]

For many industries and regions, corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability are de rigueur. In several cases, there is also legislation to back them up, and there are no signs the resulting regulations are going away anytime soon.

Despite this, may companies pay CSR little more than lip service. There are numerous reasons for this. For one, CSR often has a hard time competing for budget and investments relative to other “hot” projects focused on short-term cost savings. This is a shame, because when CSR is extended to the supply base, it can actually be used to demonstrate not just regulatory/customer compliance but also to tap supplier innovation, lower costs, reduce supply risk and increase brand leverage.

The bigger tactical issue, however, is that extending CSR out to suppliers is simply hard to do cost effectively — especially if you want to do it properly. Getting hundreds (or thousands) of suppliers to adhere to basic contract terms and a vague supplier code of conduct document is one thing, but getting them to comply with more impactful and enforceable clauses for CSR/sustainability is even more challenging. If you’re a buying organization that’s truly concerned with de-risking your supply chain and looking beyond “check the box” compliance, you need to have a way to engage your suppliers in a more compelling way. Suppliers have many demands on their time and investments, too, so offering them something more than an edict is necessary.

But perhaps the most vexing question begins with measuring success. When you get down to it, how do you even define sustainability and responsibility? How do you measure it? And how do you know whether your performance against those measurements is good or bad for your industry or overall, especially when core requirements for CSR and sustainability differ across dozens of industries and hundreds of categories?

It takes expertise, and not just software. EcoVadis knows this, and that's why it has more than 150 CSR experts on staff to evaluate supplier profiles, documents and third-party audits to objectively gauge the corporate social responsibility of a company against a benchmarked numeric scale. It integrates this expertise into a unique combination of automated supplier surveys, certifications (gathering, analysis, validation, and publishing), benchmarking and training across 21 major CSR factors (with potentially hundreds of atomic level questions) derived from a combination of major global CSR standards — and augmented by best practice. It’s pretty cool when you see it in action.

In this Spend Matters PRO analysis, we’ll dive into EcoVadis’ company background, its solution offering and some recommendations on how the firm is best used to maximize value. Part 2 of this analysis will focus on strengths, weaknesses and production selection guidance. Part 3 will then wrap up with SWOT Analysis, competitive analysis, shortlist guidance and final commentary and recommendations.