Sustainable Supply Chain Sustainability

How many Hollywood movies have you seen where the businessperson was the good guy? I can only think of one which is “It’s a Wonderful Life”. Many people want to operate an organization responsibly. Unfortunately, there is no help out there for you do from a wingless angel like the movie. So how do you approach this?

I was fortunate to attend a Corporate Social Responsibility panel discussion on February 21 sponsored by the Chicago Roundtable of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP). This blog post was inspired by that event. There was outstanding panel of people whose names I want to mention to give the sense of the deep interest in this topic.

  • Brandon Davis CNA Insurance Director of Public Relations and Corporate Social Responsibility Marketing and Distribution
  • Entheran Cousin Chicago Council on Global Afairs Senior Fellow, In her career she spent nearly 8 years as the US ambassador to the UN Agencies for Food and Agriculture in Rome
  • Dr Nezih Altay Professor of Supply Chain Management at DePaul. He has studied and written about humanitarian supply chains.
  • Sarah Iles Chief Ethics & Compliance Officer for Akorn Pharmaceuticals
  • Kenneth Mathieu who is the Vice President for Forensic Services for Charles River Associates was the panel moderator.

It was amazing to hear such a talented panel. They have been in weeds trying to do the stuff to make corporate social responsibility possible and work. My main take away from this event was to be successful in corporate responsibility, one needs to make it sustainable.

Before we get to how to make corporate responsibility sustainable, let’s answer some questions first: What are the acronyms of this process? What is its justification in the business process?

There two acronyms the speakers most often used were:

  • ESR – Environmental Social Responsibility
  • CSR – Corporate Social Responsibility

What are the business benefits of ESR and CSR? I remember what a new plant manager told me when I was discussing safety in the plant. He said when workers adopt procedural safety processes and they see the benefit of process thinking. They put process thinking in practice in work habits and become more efficient. Study after study shows companies with high ESR and CSR ratings make more money, because the processes led to more efficient and cost-effective operation.

Customers’ expectations on corporate responsibility are also increasing. Corporate responsibility can be an asset in the market place.

There is a recruiting benefit. People motivated by values are also motivated workers. I have spoken to millennials and General X and Y people who are looking for a responsible organization to work for.

How does organization make corporate responsibility sustainable as oppose to one which makes disappear on the first bad quarterly statement? Finding ways to measure sustainability is important. Employee and Management incentives must encourage this type of behavior. The processes put in place must have direct measurable benefits. There will be indirect benefits, as the discipline corporate responsibility will improve processes in general.

One more piece of advice. Look at this as a journey. Do not be discouraged by difficult periods. Keep corporate responsibility as one of the things that guide you.

If you do find a wingless angel to help, please put the contact information in LinkedIn. so more of us can use her or him.

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