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How to engage businesses in supply chain sustainability

By 1st April 2017 Blog, Sustainability No Comments

Want to engage your suppliers in supply chain sustainability? Reward them. Here’s how.

To really drive sustainability in your business, there comes a time when you have to go beyond changing things you control and start attempting to change things that you can influence – which includes both customers and suppliers.

We’ll cover how to engage customers in sustainability in a separate post. In this one, we focus on how to engage your supply chain.

The first thing to remember is that it works best when it’s a collaborative effort – so don’t start out by imposing arbitrary targets on them, get their buy-in by explaining what you’re trying to achieve and then asking them for help. You might be surprised at just how much your key suppliers have to offer, and by making them feel valued, you’ll soon get them coming forward with improvement suggestions.

Next, you need to find a way to reward them for their efforts. Long term contractual commitments will always be welcomed but kind words also work.

When did you last send an unexpected thank you note to one of your suppliers for the work they’ve done in support of your business? Everyone likes to be recognised for their efforts, so send a quick email every now and then just thanking the suppliers that engage with your sustainability ambitions.

As your efforts grow and mature, it’s time to think about an awards scheme. It doesn’t need to be especially fancy – categorising businesses as Gold, Silver or Bronze based on their sustainability efforts in your supply chain and sending them a certificate at the end of the year is one way to do it, and can be easy to manage and low cost. Alternatively, you could host an awards event and invite your suppliers to receive their certificates in front of their peers – fostering collaboration among suppliers and, who knows, maybe even introducing an element of competition!

So, to recap:

1. Don’t impose arbitrary targets

2. Invite your suppliers to collaborate with you in shaping your sustainability goals

3. Send simple notes of thanks to suppliers that engage with your sustainability ambitions

4. Introduce an awards scheme that you can use to formally recognise and reward good sustainability performance across your supply chain

Want some help engaging your key suppliers in supply chain sustainability? Just ask – from supplier audits to the development and implementation of reward and recognition schemes, our expert consultants have a wealth of experience you can benefit from. 

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