Jan-Willem Jannink, managing director and global sustainable value chain lead with Accenture, details the findings of a recent survey of CEOs about their sustainability efforts.
Accenture partnered with the United Nations Global Compact for its 12th annual survey of chief executive officers about their efforts to create a more sustainable future. Three major areas of concern emerged from the findings, Jannink says. The first was a sense that the industry isn’t moving quickly enough to meet the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in 17 specific action areas. “We all need to step up and head in the right direction,” he says.
The second concern is a call for global consistency of regulations and standards by which businesses can be measured in their progress toward sustainability. Both the European Union and U.S. have taken steps in that direction, but there’s still no overarching global regimen that would define how companies are performing. Jannink notes the time it took to achieve standardization of financial reporting. “We need to be realistic that it will take quite some time before getting to a uniform reporting and data framework.”
The third topic emerging from the latest CEO survey is the need for supply chain resilience, as manifested in continued access to capital, labor and global markets in a time of geopolitical turmoil.
CEOs’ actions toward re-imagining supply chains for greater sustainability are taking three major forms, Jannink says: resilience, circularity and transparency. Resilience means, in many cases, having more inventory on hand as a buffer against interruptions in supply, as well as the ability to switch to air freight from ocean to guarantee on-time delivery of product to the customer. But both actions require a higher level of working capital.
Circularity is an increasingly popular means of boosting sustainability in supply chains, by minimizing waste and reducing the amount of new materials required for production. And transparency is essential to evaluating global supply chains and making key decisions that drive profitability, excellent customer service and environmental responsibility, Jannink says.
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