VIEWS: Make Walmart Proud – Five Things That Will Set You Apart from Other Suppliers

Dispatch from SSC President Jennifer Woofter

The 2010 CDP Supply Chain Report was released this week, summarizing the current status of climate change reporting by suppliers to global companies—like Walmart—participating in the CDP Project. 

Because Strategic Sustainability Consulting is working with several Walmart suppliers who will be reporting to CDP for the first time in 2010, we were curious to know what would set our clients apart from the rest.  Here’s the five things that stand out:

#1: Think critically about climate change risk.  

More than 40% of suppliers reporting to CDP haven’t yet made the connection.  And it’s there…for so many reasons.  Energy price volatility, increasing unpredictability of weather patterns (and thus agriculture growing seasons), increasing consumer awareness, supplier requirements, regulatory changes for environmental permitting, FTC changes to green advertising, the list goes on and on and on…

#2: Set a reduction target – and be SPECIFIC. 

About two thirds of suppliers are currently unable to articulate clear and detailed reduction targets.  (Want to REALLY stand out?  Create absolute reduction targets – not just those tagged to production/sales intensity.)

#3: Make your carbon data and strategies public.

Less than half of suppliers are currently transparent with their stakeholders about their carbon impacts.  Create an annual sustainability report.  Take your CDP report and MAKE IT PUBLIC.  You’ve already done the work – now reap the benefits of radical transparency.

#4: Assign responsibility for carbon management to a top executive. 

Only 60% of suppliers currently have that kind of senior accountability.  Just make sure that with responsibility comes accountability – can you tie the annual bonus to carbon reduction?

#5: Provide incentives for employees to contribute to carbon reduction plans.

Do this and you will be an instant leader, since less than a third of companies are actively engaging their employees on emissions reductions plan.  Make it in their interest to find ways to meet the corporate carbon targets – they are your best resource…use them!

CDP Reporting can be overwhelming the first time around, and an experienced consultant can go a long way to easing the pain of that first report. Specifically, a sustainability consultant can help translate some of the industry jargon (“Scope 2 emissions”) into easy-to-understand pieces (“ahh, they’re talking about purchased electricity…that’s easy!”).  And remember, it’s equally important to have accurate, verifiable data AND be able to articulate what that means for your company.  Data + strategy = a happy Walmart.