How Companies Build Responsible and Responsive Supply Chains

How Companies Build Responsible and Responsive Supply Chains

Can companies build global supply chains that are competitive yet sustainable? Unilever, one of the world's leading suppliers of consumer goods, believed so.
Jessica Kilcoyne October 18, 2011
Can companies build global supply chains that are competitive yet sustainable? Unilever, one of the world's leading suppliers of consumer goods, believed so.

With annual revenues over $50 billion from more than 400 brands, 10,000 raw materials suppliers and 100,000 non-production suppliers, Unilever knew securing supply was critical for sustaining future business and growth.

To manage for sustainability in its supply chain, Unilever developed a code to which its suppliers ----- and its suppliers' suppliers ----- adhere. When audits reveal non-compliance, Unilever works with the supplier directly to address the challenge, and to identify and publicly disclose corrective actions.

By becoming a champion for working conditions, providing fair wages and managing environmental issues, Unilever discovered numerous tangible benefits through supply chain responsibility. "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," noted John Coyne, Vice President, General Counsel, Unilever Canada Inc.

Establishing a code of conduct is one of several practices your company can undertake in moving towards a more sustainable global supply chain, and is one of the key steps identified by Dr. Stephen Brammer in his work, Managing Sustainable Global Supply Chains, published by the Network for Business Sustainability.

Read about other best practices, like creating expectations through environmental scanning, in our executive report on  Managing Sustainable Global Supply Chains Executive Report, based on the comprehensive research study conducted by Brammer.

Additional Resources

Video

Professor Stephen Brammer talks about his recent research: Managing Sustainable Global Supply Chains: A Systematic Review of the Body of Knowledge

NBS
Executive Report

Designed for executives and senior supply chain, purchasing and sustainability managers, NBS presents a 3-step framework for sustainable supply chains.

NBS
Reports and Articles

Most companies have a hidden supply chain, thanks to complexities of global business. Here's why they're still responsible and what they can do about it.

Anthea Rowe