VIEWS: What Makes An Accountable Supply Chain

We've talked recently about the importance of ethical supply chains. Now, I'd like to share more about SSC's approach to supply chain management, and the three components we consider to be critical in creating a successful and accountable procurement plan:

  1. Policies – the first step in creating a “green supply chain” is to identify the key environmental impacts of your products/services and create a policy that specifically addresses those areas. For example, if your company makes electrical components (e.g. semiconductors), then your key environmental impacts during the production process are a) toxic chemical use during production, b) energy use, and c) water use. So your policy should explicitly address the need to find eco-friendly alternatives for those areas. Whereas, if you are a basic office (without manufacturing), then your key environmental impacts have to do with land/building use and office supplies. Your policy then should deal specifically with infrastructure (green building, etc.), energy, and office materials.

  1. Programs – the next step is to set up a purchasing program that integrates traditional metrics (price, quality) with environmental (and sometimes social) indicators. There are a variety of ways to do this, and we specialize in helping our clients figure out a way to maximize their eco-priorities without sacrificing material availability and profitability. There is also a component of marketing here, since consumers will often pay a premium for eco-products, and this should factor into the purchasing program’s structure.

  1. Performance – the final step is to actually implement the program, and here is where we provide supply chain auditing services. Sometimes we review suppliers that are already being used, to judge whether they are meeting the policy’s goals. Other times we seek out new suppliers, especially when the supply chain is not already well-established. Ideally, any committed company factors in an annual review of their suppliers, to ensure that their policy/program is working correctly, and here we help too.

If your organization is ready to take a look at its supply chain from a social and environmental responsibility veiwpoint, please email me at for a free consultation. Getting started is easier than you think!