Executive Briefings

Environmental: The Changing Outlook in Sustainable Supply Chain Management

Analyst Insight: Today, sustainability is on the agenda of the highest-ranking corporate executives, as well as line-of-business managers. It is time for companies to take a more serious look at the role sustainability can play in making their supply chains more viable, competitive and best aligned with the Triple Bottom Line of profits, people and planet.

There is a surge of initiatives being planned or already in the process of implementation that aim at increasing the sustainability of supply chain management processes. Of over 1,600 companies participating in the 2009 Aberdeen Report survey, 48 percent reported having a sustainability / green initiative in place. Among those with existing initiatives, 59 percent reported current initiatives focused on the supply chain, and 13 percent said they planned to begin a supply-chain-focused sustainability initiative in 2009.

Another recent Aberdeen study on the end-to-end corporate agenda for sustainability - Sustainability Matters: the Corporate Executive's Strategic Agenda (March 2009) - investigated the top drivers and plans for focusing on sustainability. The factors driving the corporate sustainability agenda have gained high strategic importance in the recent years, with the top three being:

• Desire for environmental / social stewardship / corporate responsibility - 56 percent
• Desire to increase / maintain brand reputation / value - 48 percent
• Competitive advantage / differentiation - 46 percent

In another supply chain-focused study, Aberdeen surveyed 209 companies for its report The Supply Chain Executive's Agenda 2009: Weathering the Recession. In this study,  29 percent of respondents said that sustainability / corporate responsibility criteria have been incorporated into their strategies for all SCM processes, with an additional 44 percent saying that the sustainability / CR criteria have been incorporated into at least some of their SCM processes (e.g. supplier selection, transportation or manufacturing).

The Outlook

Aberdeen's research shows that companies across industries are either investigating or already implementing various initiatives for environmentally and socially responsible supply chain operations and ethical supplier and customer relationship management. This trend is also not limited to the leading companies: companies at all stages of innovation and industry leadership are now turning their attention to this critical area.

There is a surge of initiatives being planned or already in the process of implementation that aim at increasing the sustainability of supply chain management processes. Of over 1,600 companies participating in the 2009 Aberdeen Report survey, 48 percent reported having a sustainability / green initiative in place. Among those with existing initiatives, 59 percent reported current initiatives focused on the supply chain, and 13 percent said they planned to begin a supply-chain-focused sustainability initiative in 2009.

Another recent Aberdeen study on the end-to-end corporate agenda for sustainability - Sustainability Matters: the Corporate Executive's Strategic Agenda (March 2009) - investigated the top drivers and plans for focusing on sustainability. The factors driving the corporate sustainability agenda have gained high strategic importance in the recent years, with the top three being:

• Desire for environmental / social stewardship / corporate responsibility - 56 percent
• Desire to increase / maintain brand reputation / value - 48 percent
• Competitive advantage / differentiation - 46 percent

In another supply chain-focused study, Aberdeen surveyed 209 companies for its report The Supply Chain Executive's Agenda 2009: Weathering the Recession. In this study,  29 percent of respondents said that sustainability / corporate responsibility criteria have been incorporated into their strategies for all SCM processes, with an additional 44 percent saying that the sustainability / CR criteria have been incorporated into at least some of their SCM processes (e.g. supplier selection, transportation or manufacturing).

The Outlook

Aberdeen's research shows that companies across industries are either investigating or already implementing various initiatives for environmentally and socially responsible supply chain operations and ethical supplier and customer relationship management. This trend is also not limited to the leading companies: companies at all stages of innovation and industry leadership are now turning their attention to this critical area.