A Supply Management View of Sustainability

June 09, 2022

As sustainability continues to become a driving force for companies, it’s important to understand the extent of the efforts being taken by companies across the United States. Many companies and organizations have sustainability goals set in order to meet stakeholder and customer expectations.

Boise Paper partnered with the Institute for Supply Management® to conduct a survey to see how sustainability is perceived and enacted by U.S.-based supply management professionals. Of those surveyed, 74 percent have sustainability goals in place, with nearly half (48 percent) reporting that their companies’ sustainability goals are a part of daily operations.

Other key survey findings include:

  • Of the 11 attributes of the ISM Principles of Sustainability and Social Responsibility, ethics and conduct, followed by health and safety, are most important to supply management organizations and companies.
  • Between 48 and 67 percent of supply managers say they would pay more for the most common spend categories, including capital equipment, office supplies and manufacturing components, if they were offered sustainably. What they are willing to pay more for can depend on industry.
  • Non-manufacturing companies are less likely to prioritize working with U.S. suppliers than their manufacturing counterparts.
  • Generally, 46 to 63 percent of companies say they are willing to pay more for U.S.-made products like capital equipment and manufacturing components.
  • Companies with 10,000 or more employees are more likely to have goals in place and have them integrated into daily operations versus smaller companies.

The research led to a white paper examining the results through the lens of three pillars: 

Social responsibility pertains to such areas as equity, health and safety, business conduct, and community. Much of social responsibility is boiled down to ethics and business conduct which includes diversity, safety, and environmental efforts. Survey respondents say their companies most frequently measure whether an internal code of conduct policy has been established, communicated, and tracked. Another oft-cited measurement is completion rates for ethics/business conduct training.

Environmental impact encompasses such factors as climate change, greenhouse-gas emissions, land use, and impact on ecosystems. The survey’s most-cited metrics for measuring environmental goals involve disposal and waste management, paper use and recycling, and water management. Such factors as company size and business sector (manufacturing or non-manufacturing) didn’t substantially impact how survey respondents felt about their companies’ environmental goals.

Economic awareness includes risk management, organizational governance, and accountability. While the latter two help keep businesses cognizant of ethical conduct, companies also need to be profitable while practicing financial integrity and enacting the other two pillars. Reaching economic awareness is most commonly achieves by buying U.S.-made products and prioritizing purchases from said companies. Generally, more than half of respondents are willing to pay more for goods manufactured in the U.S., depending on the product.

Supply management is a broad subject and if you wish to learn more about sustainability from this perspective, click here.

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