Supply chain sustainability a growing concern for companies

Climate change and other environmental issues have become a growing source of trouble for businesses. Sustainability is no longer viewed as a mere matter of compliance or an environmental activist cause, but a pressing challenge for organizations to tackle. As such, corporate sustainability programs have become more commonplace than ever, but a crucial point for organizations to remember is the supply chain is just as much a part of the businesses and needs to have its sustainability issues addressed in the same way. Yet recent research shows many firms are lagging in bringing sustainability to their suppliers and could potentially benefit from working with supply chain recruiters to create a greener perspective.

Sustainability targets not applied to supply chain
In "Building the Green Supply Chain," produced by GreenBiz Group and Supply Chain Insights, 92 percent of surveyed companies publicly share sustainability targets and 74 percent integrate eco-friendly programs into brand image and reputation, underscoring the growing emphasis on sustainability. However, only 20 percent reported they extended those green-minded goals to their supplier network.

Research also found sustainability didn't even register on the list of pain points for supply chain professionals, just 3 percent cited corporate social responsibility as the most difficult challenge facing suppliers.

The study revealed a basic flaw in many companies' supply chain sustainability strategies; their supply chain professionals didn't score highly among their peers in terms of understanding sustainability goals. Forty-nine percent of sustainability team members believe the supply side team grasped corporate sustainability. Just 42 percent of supply chain respondents thought they did well in understanding sustainability, perhaps indicating larger firms may want to launch a talent search with the help of supply chain recruiters to find sustainability-minded employees.

Code of conduct helps align supply chain goals
In addition to finding more eco-friendly talent, firms can also investigate a number of different techniques to improve supply chain attention to sustainability.

Sixty-eight percent of supply chain respondents said developing a supplier code of conduct is an effective method to improve supplier environmental performance. Thirty-five percent said supplier development teams, 29 cited sustainability scorecard, 26 percent recommended third party auditing and 23 percent said training helps them meet environmental goals.

The report also offered a couple action points for companies to consider when trying to advance supplier sustainability, like communicating clearly defined targets and networking with green thought leaders.