David South, senior principal for energy and utilities with West Monroe, discusses the results of the firm’s latest survey of top executives, and the progress they’re making toward supply chain sustainability.
West Monroe’s latest quarterly survey of C-suite executives nationwide finds them “extremely positive” about plans they’ve put into place to address the fallout from COVID-19, South says. They’re also concerned about adopting new hiring and work practices in line with ongoing concerns about the pandemic.
There’s less awareness when it comes to actions to promote sustainability. Twenty-five percent of the executives surveyed in the fourth quarter said they have no quarterly plans to establish sustainability practices. That doesn’t come as a complete surprise to South, given that industries in general haven’t felt much pressure to make progress on sustainability efforts. “This has not been a top-priority issue for them,” he says. Those that are affected are mostly large multinationals with exposure to non-governmental organizations that are in a position to influence corporate policies and practices.
Significant progress in sustainability has yet to be made in setting standards for supply chain partners, whose activities are beyond the control of their end customers. Only around 30% of respondents said they are engaged in such action, with the remainder saying that the approach is new to them.
Certain large retailers such as Walmart have been proactive in requiring that their vendors adhere to sustainability standards. But it remains a challenge to influence the behavior of outside partners, who fall into the category of “Scope 3” emissions as defined by the standards organization known as the Global Reporting Initiative.
South says companies will increasingly come under pressure to promote sustainability, especially when required by the Securities and Exchange Commission to disclose their total carbon footprint.
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