Businesses must not wait for consumers to drive sustainability

Businesses must collaborate to ensure they achieve sustainability throughout their supply chain and should not wait for consumers to push their agendas, says the Carbon Disclosure Projects (CDP) Dexter Galvin.

Head of CDP supply chain, Galvin, said large corporations must ensure collaboration is at the forefront of their strategies to encourage innovative solutions and share ideas with their suppliers and other businesses.

Speaking at yesterday’s Responsible Procurement & Supplier Engagement Conference, organised by edie and Sustainable Business magazine, Galvin said businesses need to ask themselves several questions to plan against environmental and social issues.

“How do you secure commodities? How do you ensure that your supply chain is safe? How do you ensure that you can continue to afford to produce the products that you need to produce to continue to stay in business with 9bn people on the planet?”

“No custodian wants to be the person of their corporation to fail to plan effectively for the future. Even if climate change didn’t exist we’re still going to face a world with 9bn people in 2050”.

However, all of these problems lead to significant opportunities if acted upon swiftly, said Galvin. He added that corporations should use these opportunities, rather than wait for consumers to drive their sustainability agendas.

“I suggest you don’t wait for the consumer, none of our [CDP] members are waiting for the consumer to tell them what to do,” said Galvin.

Echoing comments from BT’s head of governance and sustainability for procurement, Liz Cross, Galvin said one big question arises when it comes to the subject of sustainability – brand value.

“I think it’s interesting to link brand value and sustainability because if you think about a sustainable supply chain, what’s at risk?”

“For example, Apple’s $87bn brand value, L’Oreal’s $14.5bn brand value or Vodafone’s $30bn worth of brand value. One single supply chain incident can put that brand at risk. So that’s the motivation for doing this sort of work”.

Later in the day, BT’s Cross stressed that engaging with suppliers is key to the success of a corporation’s sustainability agenda and if ignored businesses risk damaging their reputation and brand value.

Leigh Stringer

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