Your brand cares. Your business has developed a meaningful vision of how it fits into a more sustainable future. To achieve these goals, it is important that the suppliers you work with share that vision. In 2019, CDP reported that a company’s supply chain made up 5.5 times more of its emissions than direct operations, so for your sustainability initiatives to have real impact, bringing your supply chain on board should be one of your highest priorities.
Our ‘Steps to a Sustainable Supply Chain’ series is intended to act as a guide through the process of engaging your suppliers with your sustainability goals and strategy, from communicating the value of software solutions, to the practical considerations of implementation and optimizing new processes.
The first challenge of bringing your suppliers on board with your sustainability strategy is developing effective communication. Suppliers will be more likely to engage with a brand’s new initiatives if the brand makes clear exactly what their goals are; why sustainability, transparency, and clean chemistry are important to them; and how suppliers benefit from prioritizing compliance with sustainability standards.
One of the first steps many brands take on their journey to improving sustainable practices is goal setting. Bringing your suppliers into the discussion about these more specific goals will help them understand your targets, the motivations behind those targets, and how they integrate into your wider sustainability strategy. In addition, doing so may make it easier for suppliers to see how sustainability initiatives could create value for their business.
Demonstrating your commitment to achieving sustainability goals is another important way to indicate to suppliers and other stakeholders that sustainable practices are an integral part of the future of your organization. Take steps to reduce your organization’s environmental impact both locally and globally, encourage safer and more ethical working conditions from top to bottom, and set an example within your organization’s direct operations. The actions of your organization can set the tone for your entire supply chain, as well as create momentum to help supply chain members get the ball rolling.
Win-Win for Suppliers
The next step in bringing your supply chain onboard is helping suppliers understand how they can derive value from implementing your proposed programs. The potential benefits will vary depending on the specifics of your sustainability initiatives, but in most cases suppliers stand to gain in three key ways:
- Keeping up with consumer demand. More and more consumers are making purchasing decisions on the basis of sustainability and transparency, which leads brands to set higher standards for their supply chain members. Suppliers making efforts to bring their operations in line with this demand are likely to build stronger relationships with the brands they work with and expand their client pool.
- Staying ahead of regulation. Suppliers that take steps to bring their health and safety, chemical use, and waste disposal processes up to a higher standard will be well-positioned to adapt to new, stricter government regulations as they come into force.
- Improving client relationships. The key to a good supplier-client relationship is effective sharing of information. Using networked data collection tools with standardized reporting functions creates the level of transparency that clients need to be confident in their suppliers
- Building confident communications. Suppliers can be much more confident in responding to audits and queries when they are already tracking the relevant sustainability data.
- Increasing visibility to clients. Demonstrating a commitment to advancing sustainable practices will help a supplier stand out against competitors, improving chances of attracting major brands.
Ensuring that the chemicals used throughout the supply chain are safe and nonhazardous is one of the key ways that a brand can improve its sustainability credentials. Most brands looking to involve their suppliers in their work towards sustainability use chemical information management software, such as CleanChain™, an ADEC Innovation. Joining a client in using this kind of software can bring suppliers a number of additional benefits. Software solutions offer a cost-effective way to manage chemical use by automating, standardizing, and centralizing the process on a single platform. Many software solutions also offer powerful connectivity features. For example, CleanChain allows suppliers to develop stronger, more transparent relationships with their customers and with other suppliers by using the software’s in-app connections to demonstrate their conformance through mechanisms such as detailed assessments.
The Value of Communication
Communicating your sustainability vision to your suppliers effectively is half the battle of bringing them on board with that vision. Involve them in discussions around your goals. Make your commitment clear through action. Demonstrate the benefits of joining you in that commitment and of the specific solutions you propose. Building the initial conversation on these foundations will set you and your suppliers up for shared success moving forward.
In Part 2, we will discuss practical, actionable steps that brands can take to help their suppliers prepare for and implement clean chemistry and sustainability programs. Learn more about CleanChain here, and join our LinkedIn group for the latest trends and discussions on supply chain management and transparency.
CleanChain, an ADEC Innovation, helps you gain visibility and insights into the chemical use in your supply chain. Want to find out more? Book a free demo with us today to find out how CleanChain can help you engage your supply chain and improve your chemical management initiatives.