The World Economic Forum recently found that eight supply chains – food, construction, fashion, fast-moving consumer goods, electronics, automotive, professional services and freight – account for more than 50% of global emissions, proving numerous industries are in the midst of a supply chain sustainability crisis.
Sustainability is incredibly important to a business’s customers. Moreover, staff members and prospective workers are paying more attention to a company’s environmental impact when making employment decisions. In turn, the type of products a company produces, how they produce them and their overall mission have emerged as key considerations for individuals contemplating a job change.
Looking Inwards for Long-Term solutions
When attempting to decrease a supply chain’s carbon footprint, companies must make talent a priority. Hiring managers have begun looking for candidates that have an understanding of environmental health and safety (EHS). Previously, hiring individuals with an EHS background was considered unnecessary because companies had a position with a specific focus on sustainability. However, businesses are now looking to hire more candidates with EHS backgrounds since the climate crisis has reached a critical point. Instead of hiring one person to lead organizational sustainability, companies are looking to share that responsibility across the board.
Technologists, transportation specialists, operations professionals and more can ensure a supply team operates sustainably and provides sustainable solutions. People with an EHS background can educate others on regulatory expectations and even explain some of the laws impacting their day-to-day workflow. Knowledge-sharing practices like this move the needle toward a more compliant and sustainable workplace.
Most EHS managers also have certifications from professional organizations like the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP) or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). These are some of the qualifications that hiring managers have begun looking for when sourcing new candidates.
Using Technology to Decrease Harmful Emissions
Using proper technological tools and techniques is also paramount when putting sustainable business practices into effect. Digitalization and sustainability co-evolved simultaneously across many sectors, and one could argue this has only accelerated since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. As technology and environmental standards have changed, digitalization has become key to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Since digital technologies can help lower global CO2 emissions by almost 15% according to estimates, identifying digitization opportunities can have a huge effect on a company’s EHS efforts. Technology leads to eco-friendly improvements like reducing overall environmental impacts and increasing resource efficiency.
Also, cloud computing and AI can help supply chains operate more efficiently and adjust more easily to shocks. Companies can use data and artificial intelligence to not only reduce costs but increase profits and sustainability. Technology that delivers traceable, accurate, authentic and real-time results on carbon emission calculations can drive value across the entire supply chain, allowing manufacturers and shippers to interconnectedly work together.
The Big Picture
Sourcing and hiring knowledgeable EHS professionals in key roles, or “green jobs,” coupled with implementing technological advancements are actionable steps that supply chains can take to reduce their environmental impact. Though there is much work to be done, it’s important to consumers and employees that their company or favorite brand is doing its part to combat global warming.
Emily Prendergast is executive director of DSJ Global New York.
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