How- Sustainability- Can- Help- Strengthen- Your- Global- Supply- Chain

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January 17, 2013

The increasing cross-border movement of goods and the emergence of global competitors have heightened business risk for companies reliant on production in different geographies. These risks can include everything from inconsistent or poor quality to supply disruptions. Developing new relationships that cross multiple national boundaries doesn’t have to be fraught with worry, however; adopting a sustainable approach to your global supply chain management can open up a world of opportunities.

The consumer products giant Unilever sources from 10,000 raw materials suppliers worldwide and up to 100,000 non-production suppliers, earning annual revenues of more than $50 billion dollars from more than 400 brands. Securing supply is critical to sustaining Unilever’s future business and growth, and it has discovered tangible business benefits through supply chain responsibility, championing working conditions, providing fair-wage incomes and managing environmental issues such as waste and climate change. “These benefits protect and enhance Unilever’s reputation, help secure supply for our business over the long term, provide increased stability of operations and create cost efficiencies. Ultimately, they generate competitive advantage,” notes John Coyne, Vice President, General Counsel, Unilever Canada, Inc. It turns out there is plenty of research evidence to support this view. A substantial review of 25 years’ worth of academic and industry research on social and environmental issues in global supply chains was commissioned by the Network for Business Sustainability and conducted by Dr. Stephen Brammer, a professor at the Warwick Business School in the United Kingdom and Drs. Stefan Hoejmose and Andrew Millington of the University of Bath in Britain. The resulting report, Managing Sustainable Global Supply Chains: A Systematic Review of the Body of...
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