We couldn’t agree more with Philip Hicks, procurement manager at Northumbrian Water, who said the key to his company’s supply chain sustainability is getting out and meeting with its top suppliers. As he points out, companies expect their suppliers to help them achieve their sustainability goals, and it’s only through personal engagement that suppliers will come to understand the role they play.
A Sedexglobal report, however, encourages companies to go a step further into the supply chain and meet with as many suppliers as possible, whether they’re Tier 1, 2 or 3. It points out that the “greatest and most critical sustainability risks are found deeper down the supply chain.” Unfortunately, only a third of companies are actively seeking transparency below Tier 1 in their supply chain.
How deep into the supply chain are you managing your supplier relationships? Are you going far enough?
On the heels of Mary Barra’s appointment as CEO of General Motors, we can’t resist sharing this GreenBiz.com interview with another female executive in the supply management world. Kate Heiny leads the enterprise-wide sustainability strategy for Target, a Fortune 50 company and one of the most important retailers in the US with the more than 1,700 stores in 49 states.
Early in her career Heiny recognized that industries would need radical transformation in order to be successful in the future, and she views sustainability as the business strategy critical to the long-term viability of Target.
She and her Sustainability Team are responsible for helping Target’s guests and team members live more sustainable lives and minimize Target’s impact on the environment.
For example, Target is a founding member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, a trade organization of brands, retailers, manufacturers, government and non-governmental organizations and academic experts who are working to reduce the environmental and social impacts of apparel and footwear products around the world. Target uses the Coalition’s Higg Index to gauge its environmental sustainability performance and make changes for improvement.
With its grocery items, Target is making long-term commitments to offer food that will be GMO-free by year-end 2014, increase its organic food offerings by 2017 and replace farmed salmon with wild salmon.
Collaboration, creativity and sharing are three words Heiny uses frequently to describe how her team is working to imbed sustainability into their team members’ day-to-day work at Target. “Sustainability needs to be a holistic way of working and operating, not just one initiative or team,” Heiny said.
Time is running out for farmers and others to comment on new FDA rules covering produce farms, food processors and importers of foreign food products. The shock waves from outbreaks of food-borne illnesses led Congress to enact the Food Safety Modernization Act. The FDA was charged with turning the law into regulations, and the comment period for the proposed rules ends November 15.
The rules are creating significant headaches for growers because it is very difficult to anticipate the huge variety of conditions that actually prevail in farms across the country. For buyers the law, and the rules coming from, it demonstrate a significant shift from a system that reacts to an outbreak of an illness to a system intended to prevent the problems in the first place. That idea makes a lot of sense, but as the FDA points out — it is not just relying on more of its own involvement, but active participation from the food industry.
For instance, it requires in some situations that food importers verify that their foreign suppliers have had food safety audits. In other situations, where importers sell to other food processors, they will be responsible for monitoring their customers as well. All this underscores the wider role supply managers are fulfilling as consumers, and therefore, governments are demanding accountability throughout supply chains.
Here’s Food Safety Modernization Actfor the proposed new food safety rules.
U.S. Military procurement often takes a rap for inefficiency — true or not — but here’s evidence the brass are trying to “smarten up” their supply chain. According to Boeing, the U.S. Air Force has signed a master supply contract with Boeing that covers purchases for spare parts at all three Air Force repair facilities. Find the release here.
Negotiating a master agreement reportedly saved months of time and will create efficiencies delivering spare parts to fix or rebuild military aircraft. Of course, if these three operations have all been working on Boeing aircraft since the Air Force started buying from Boeing, one might reasonably ask, “what took so long to figure out one contract for all Boeing supplies was better than three?”
I expect the process was a lot more complicated than it might appear. These are huge operations in three different parts of the country that are responsible for about a dozen different kinds of transports, bombers and fighters deployed around the world. So we should give the Air Force it’s due — especially in this week when we honor our veterans. But it does beg the question for all of us – what obvious inefficiencies do we have in our own supply chains that we have lived with, ignored, perhaps whined about, but never addressed head-on, regardless of how intractable it might seem?
No matter what what it is, perhaps it’s time now to finally tackle that “elephant in the room.” Or perhaps we should say “C-130.”
It’s a safe bet that if any of us ran a business where people didn’t compromise or negotiate, one of two things would happen: the leadership would go, or the business would cease to exist. Unfortunately, that’s what is going on with our government this week, and about 800,000 of its employees are not working as a result, and one million are expected to work without pay.
Right now, some industries like tourism and federal government departments and bureaus, are getting hurt more than others. The longer this goes on, however, the greater the impact, including the ripple effect of the unemployed and unpaid not having money to purchase goods and services.
Economic consulting firm IHS Global Insight estimates the shutdown will cost about $1.6 billion each week, or $300 million per day. How long it will go on is anyone’s guess at this point.
As annoying and inconvenient as the government shutdown is, it’s just that — an irritant. The greater danger for industries and for our economy is the debt ceiling. No one knows what will happen if we don’t increase the debt ceiling because it’s never happened before. Speculation is the government could run out of cash to pay its bills, causing severe financial turmoil.
It’s time for those in Washington who espouse “my way or the highway” and delight in shutting down the government to come back to the table to listen, negotiate and compromise. Our country deserves better from those who serve us in Washington.