Better supply chain visibility is what you need to safeguard your brand. Trends ranging from globalisation and social media to rising consumer demand for responsibly and sustainably produced goods have transformed the role of the supply chain. Your supply chain today is very much an extension of your brand – with the power to bolster or harm your reputation. Even the most celebrated brands are vulnerable.
Among many well-known brands, there have been cases of harsh working conditions in overseas factories, fires and other safety hazards that have injured or killed thousands of people, and environmental spills or lapses that have caused significant damage to habitats and communities.
Suppliers’ poor workplace conditions and flawed environmental practices can directly or indirectly impact even the strongest brands, which is why environmentally and socially responsible sourcing has become a priority.
Unfortunate headlines often underscore the limits to a traditional approach to supply chain management built solely on spot audits by third parties. With frequent audits, it’s not uncommon to reflect polished results within a limited time period instead of standard operating procedures adopted in everyday reality. What’s more, the factories themselves can be left out of the loop. They may not see the results of the questionnaires or audits to which they submit, leaving no opportunity for systemic improvement. In the wrong context, audits can be hoops to jump through instead of management tools for improvement.
Many brands are progressing toward a different kind of supplier partnership that goes beyond auditing and instead focuses on empowerment. These changes are leading to some remarkable bottom line benefits for all stakeholders – brands, supplier, workers and responsible consumers.
Ben Wilde is a director at ADEC Innovations, a leader in advancing sustainable practices around the world and helping organizations grow and operate responsibly.
*This article originally appeared on The European Business Review.