Seeing the World from the Eyes of Your Supplier

Engage vs. Demand
Jul 17, 2017 9:05 AM ET

Originally published in CR Magazine May/June 2017 issue

By Jennifer Anderson

Supply chains are a critical element of sustainability success for most companies. Yet working on supply chain sustainability is a challenging task. It’s hard enough to get people in your own company to change their behavior, but influencing the actions of those in another company—even as a large customer—can seem nearly impossible.

Truth be told, sustainability management itself is messy, complicated, often frustrating work. And acknowledging that is the first step to success in engaging your suppliers. Suppliers who are not responding to your information requests or are not scoring well on your assessments are simply in the same place your company was (or maybe still is) just a few years back.

If you are fortunate enough to work for a company that has a sustainability team in place, a little discussion and self-reflection can go a long way toward improving engagement with suppliers. Ask yourselves questions like: “Where do/did we struggle in accomplishing our sustainability goals?” “What helps/hurts our efforts when it comes to our relationships with our customers?” “What worked for us in overcoming challenges?” and “What did our customers do that helped us?”

The answers you come up will begin to pave the way toward building a better, more productive relationship with suppliers around sustainability.

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