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Sustainability and collaboration

September 28, 2015

A survey recently published by The Ethical Corporation suggests that the ‘most exciting opportunity’ to achieve sustainability is through collaboration with suppliers. However, while this was the most popular approach among those surveyed, it was selected by just 24%.

Those polled report that their main incentives are linked to eliminating supply chain risks and avoiding reputational damage. Topping their list of issues were traceability (56%) and environmental concerns (53%), although these varied by region with North America seeking to ‘eliminate dependency on unsustainable raw materials’. Answers also varied depending on markets served.

The question of how we achieve sustainable practices – and where responsibility lies – is complex. Clearly there is an opportunity for suppliers to gain competitive advantage through their ability to make distinctive commitments. These will come from product innovation – for example, alternative materials, technical innovation – such as improved control or measurement systems, and increased control over supply chains. Yet many of these improvements require investment and may increase costs – and there is little sign that most customers are willing to pay for increased sustainability.

Overall, the range of issues highlighted in the Ethical Corporation report represent demanding and exciting commercial challenges. They reflect the growing array of opportunities for commercial experts to contribute to the business through innovative approaches to the formation and management of key trading relationships.

To view a copy of the report from The Ethical Corporation, click here

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