The exclusivity of sustainability
There is still a common misconception that the world of sustainability is reserved for the stereotypical and affluent tree-huggers and green campaigners of the world - the vegans at the dinner table of life, essentially.
This is somewhat mirrored in the world of business too, with sustainability responsibilities falling on the shoulders of sustainability professionals, teams, and departments. This can make sustainability feel very exclusive - the opposite of what it needs to be. It widens the gap of understanding between those who engage with sustainability on a day-to-day basis and those who may not, meaning that communicating effectively about the topic becomes increasingly difficult.
The importance of more voices in the conversation
As we mentioned in a previous blog, sustainability needs to made simpler and more accessible for us to find solutions to the environmental and social issues we currently face. But a topic so complex and multifaceted requires solutions which are born out of multiple conversations, collaborations, and stakeholder perspectives. This is precisely why more voices, minds, and expertise within a brand or retailer’s supply base need to be invited into conversations – fresh insights and solutions come from collective intelligence and diversity of perspectives.
Embracing a diversity of perspectives around a specific environmental or social issue enables brands and retailers to learn more about their suppliers, and also break free of a bubble of limited exposure to hear alternative opinions, ideas, and solutions, which may otherwise not have been fathomable. Being able to leverage this diverse expertise and perspectives within the supply base is an important source of innovation for brands and retailers.
To make progress towards goals, sustainability and brand transformation strategies need this kind of exposure to different perspectives.
Facilitate education and engagement with suppliers
Promoting sustainability internally and educating suppliers is crucial, but can be complicated. This is why the Supply Pilot platform includes supplier assessment tools which enable brands and retailers to segment suppliers based on knowledge and capabilities. There is also a knowledge base to easily share relevant knowledge and training. Alongside this, we strive to make our content as easily accessible as possible to many different types of people; those who have busy schedules and just want key takeaways, perhaps those who are more visual learners, those who just want to quickly find to the parts most relevant to them, and even those for whom sustainability is a completely new concept…
The more suppliers who feel as if they are increasingly well-informed about sustainability, the more brands and retailers can hope to have more meaningful discussions, collaborate much more effectively, and collect the data required to make tangible progress towards their sustainability goals.
I encourage you to read our most recent whitepaper, where we break down environmental and social issues into easily digestible chunks with actionable steps. Share it with colleagues; other departments, senior management, and (most importantly) your suppliers to get multiple people involved in the conversation.