Four Key Takeaways From the 2023 Responsible Business Alliance Annual Conference

Nov 14, 2023 1:00 PM ET
Sunny Office Meeting Room

Antea Group was a sponsor of the 2023 Responsible Business Alliance annual conference in Santa Clara, California. It was a well-attended and insightful few days, providing many opportunities for networking and sharing as companies continue to navigate the challenges associated with managing global supply chains and the desire to be good global citizens. In case you missed it, here are a few of the key takeaways.

1. Forced Labor, Climate Change, and Responsible Sourcing remain priority issues 

In the context of increasing urgency for a climate transition and emerging human rights due diligence legislation in the EU and across the globe, Forced Labor, Climate Change, and the Responsible Sourcing of minerals and raw materials continue to be priority issues for companies within the electronics value chain. As the energy transition gains momentum, companies recognize the potential challenges associated with the availability of raw materials and the need for circular systems to mitigate supply pressures.

At the same time, leaders are focused on the need to identify and mitigate upstream human rights and environmental impacts, including mining. To do so, business leaders emphasized the importance of expanding ESG/sustainability collaborative efforts across internal functional teams, through industrywide initiatives and with external partners to drive meaningful change. Participants discussed the need to partner with suppliers on improvement actions and develop mitigation plans rather than immediately shifting to alternative suppliers when issues are identified. To really make the changes requires in-depth supplier engagement, internal capacity building, and financing mechanisms.

2. Uniting diverse industries for forward-thinking, responsible leadership 

The RBA conference once again brought together diverse teams from the technology, consumer industrial electronic, health care, automotive and electronic innovation industries. Not only were the industries diverse, but the team members attending were also diverse, and included PhD scientists and technical engineers, human resources, procurement, and government legislative leaders that all gathered together. Including voices from different sectors and industries encourages forward-thinking and promotes responsible business leadership within the collective.

There was focus on the challenges business leaders face as they strive to operate responsibly throughout the product value chain. A hot 2023 topic was discussion centered around scope 3, decarbonization and business resiliency in light of climate change. While these newer topics got some attention, the continued efforts related to sourcing of materials and substances, thoughtfulness around crucial conflict minerals, green, safer chemicals, and the myriad of human rights issues were still aspects many companies are grappling with. With so many important topics, companies are trying to pull all the pieces together so they can tell their ESG story and be more transparent for their stakeholders.

3. AI as a tool, not a trend 

One very bright spot was Artificial Intelligence (AI), which is enabling more efficient supply chain management strategies. Companies using AI solutions shared how the technology is applied to facilitate compliance monitoring, evaluation, and reporting to meet the increasing regulatory mandates and stakeholder expectations concerning ethical supply chains and procurement practices. By utilizing AI’s capabilities to process large and complex datasets and support unbiased assessments, organizations are able to accurately track environmental degradation through geospatial analysis, automate noncompliance monitoring, identify fake risk-related information on social media, and manage dynamic data for supply chain management.

4. Regulators to scale action 

Businesses attending this event represent those that are actively developing and improving their corporate programs aimed at limiting their impact on people and the environment. However, regulators around the globe recognize that many businesses continue to stand on the sideline. This event provided a forum for regulators to update the business community on current and/or impending regulations. Regulators are making efforts to ensure their various regulations are aligned and do not present conflicting obligations. The OECD guidelines seem to be the table stakes most jurisdictions are looking at as their benchmark. For companies just getting started, OECD guidelines are probably the place to start.

In Summary 

In summary, the 2023 Responsible Business Alliance Annual Conference highlighted several key takeaways for companies navigating global supply chain challenges and responsible business practices. Priority issues such as forced labor, climate change, and responsible sourcing of minerals remain at the forefront of discussions, emphasizing the need for collaborative efforts to address environmental and human rights impacts. The conference united diverse industries, fostering forward-thinking and responsible leadership within a collective of experts, and we look forward to next year’s conference.

To learn more about creating a resilient supply chain, connect with our experts today!

About Antea Group

Antea®Group is an environment, health, safety, and sustainability consulting firm. By combining strategic thinking with technical expertise, we do more than effectively solve client challenges; we deliver sustainable results for a better future. We work in partnership with and advise many of the world’s most sustainable companies to address ESG-business challenges in a way that fits their pace and unique objectives. Our consultants equip organizations to better understand threats, capture opportunities and find their position of strength. Lastly, we maintain a global perspective on ESG issues through not only our work with multinational clients, but also through our sister organizations in Europe, Asia, and Latin America and as a founding member of the Inogen Alliance. Learn more at