The key elements in the sustainable supply chain are shown in Exhibit 1. Included in this model is the “triple bottom line”—a theoretical device that depicts three areas that need to be measured both internally and across the supply chain. The triple bottom line consists of the natural environment, society and economic performance. Nike calls the three areas “planet,” “people,” and “profits” and understands the need to consider its performance in all three areas, not just one.
The sweet spot from which to operate is in the nexus of Exhibit 1—the intersection of environmental or green performance, society or social responsibility, and great economic performance. It is at this nexus that the firm and its supply chain are best positioned to thrive in the long term. Four enablers–strategy, organizational culture, transparency and risk management–can help move companies toward this nexus and the goal of a sustainable supply chain. Collectively they will move an organization toward a place where sustainability—like quality before it—is free.
Sustainability must be part of an integrated strategy. In fact, sustainability should be at the top level of strategy development. From that point, it can be infused throughout the corporation’s supply chain.
Mitch Jackson, vice president, environmental affairs & sustainability at FedEx, characterizes sustainability as a “team sport.” Put another way, sustainability needs to be built into the organization’s culture. FedEx looks for sustainability solutions both across departments within the company and with its customers. Jackson believes the solutions that result from the FedEx approach are both powerful and effective.
Reprinted with permission of Dr. Rogers and Supply Chain Management Review · November 2011.
Dr. Dale S. Rogers is professor, logistics & supply chain management and co-director of the Center for Supply Chain Management at Rutgers University College of Business. He can be reached at Dale. Rogers@rutgers.edu