The Business Case for A Sustainable Supply Chain
No matter what element of a client’s sustainability programme I am dealing with, my first move is always to pin down the business case for addressing that element as it applies to that particular organisation. This is so we:
- Get everybody bought into the ‘why’ before we get into detail;
- Make sure that the programme is aligned to the interests of the business from the very beginning;
- To give me an insight into the organisation’s culture and business environment.
Supply chain sustainability is no different, which is why, after a brief introduction, I started last week’s webinar with the business case (see the recording above). This business case varies widely – a food company could be coming under pressure from NGOs on the provenance of their palm oil supplies, but the prime driver for an electronics company could be legislation such as the RoHS directive or the availability of rare earth metals, and a clothing brand may want to protect that brand against shifting consumer concerns. There is no one-size fits all.
Probably the single factor that affects everybody is commodity prices – as you can see below, they’ve been surging since the turn of the millennium. Traditional supply chain were built on relatively cheap commodities, especially oil, so this resource crunch is a real risk to everyone’s quality of life.
The MGI Global Commodity Index
But even here, different businesses will be exposed to commodity prices in different ways. So, in short, it is imperative that, before you do anything else, to get a grip on the business case. You could write a case yourself and try and sell it to decision makers in the organisation, but I recommend getting those decision makers in the room and getting them to explore it themselves. The importance of gaining their buy-in cannot be understated.