Yes, Sustainable Supply Chains Really Exist

The coronavirus pandemic has swept through nearly every nation and infected close to 33 million people around the world. It has caused major disruptions in the lives of consumers and businesses worldwide. While business-as-usual takes on a whole new definition, there is a dire need for operations to be transformed with a focus on more sustainable practises, particularly in the way materials are sourced and procured.

“Where does my product come from?”

As a result of COVID-19 disruptions to global supply chains, there has been an increased interest from consumers and businesses to obtain a better understanding of where their product comes from. Transparency and accountability are necessities—and no longer an option as they were in the dark ages.

With constant innovation and access to a wealth of data, companies that possess the ability to monitor the movement of its supply chain—underscoring the need for purpose-driven supply chains.

The direct impact to the bottom line and reputational benefits that come from a dedication to sustainability and ethical supply chain management is one that cannot be ignored. Over the last few months, we’ve seen big brands pledge to be more sustainable and invest in a better post-COVID environment. But beyond the fancy headlining pledges, the real questions remain:

Does a sustainable supply chain really exist? Can all aspects of a supply chain be thoroughly examined to be deemed sustainable?

Case in point: Sustainable palm oil

Always at the center of heated debates and scandals, the reputation of palm oil has taken a severe beating over the last years. This ripple effect is felt by the companies that then source and procure palm oil for its products and services. FMCG giant, Nestlé has been no stranger to the palm oil controversy, having countless media coverage credited to its name with accusations of unsustainable practises.

Understanding the impact to its reputation and as a direct response to the allegation, Nestlé acted swiftly. They employed a multi-tiered response strategy with the goal of eradicating raw materials suppliers who did not meet its sustainability and environmental requirements to tackle deforestation and unfair labour practices. In addition, the company also made a public pledge to use only responsibly sourced palm oil by 2020, a core message is reinforced in the company’s everyday operations to ensure accountability in its actions—directly impacting their credibility and brand reputation.

Within the realms of the new normal and drastic changes that has taken place in the way that we do our businesses and live our lives, the question of sustainability is no longer an option.

Leading with purpose creates an impact that resonates across a business, including employees, customers, partners, and shareholders. While the general misconception is that the process can be terribly complicated, it certainly isn’t the case with tech advancements that continue to take place.  All in all, understanding the impact of a sustainable and purpose-driven supply chain on our communities, the environment, and the bottom line is incredibly valuable.

As a partner to the United Nations Global Compact Network Malaysia (GCMY), Engage Southeast Asia (SEA) empowers organisations and the C-suite to tailor their purpose-driven communications. Purpose informs business decisions, corporate culture and deepens credibility. Contact us today to customise effective sustainability communications for tangible business value.

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