Ethics and Sustainability: Who are the drivers for change?

The fourth session from day 1 of Ti’s Future of Logistics conference, hosted at the Intercontinental Hotel in London, was focused on ethics & sustainability. The session was moderated by Kim Winter, Global CEO of Logistics Executive, and the panellists included: John Manners-Bell, CEO, Ti; Jenny Lopez, Sustainability Advisor, Food and Energy, Forum for the Future; and Rob Palfrey, Minerva SRM.

Throughout the session, the panellists discussed the options available for best practices in logistics and supply chain which bring together ethics, sustainability and bottom line performance. Conference attendees were also given the opportunity to pose questions to the panel on the latest trends impacting this area of logistics. One such question which invited a lively debate amongst the panellists related to the shift in expectations for sustainable and ethical practises within the supply chain as millennials and Generation Z matures.

As referenced in the ‘Ti blog: Tech companies, supply chains and ethics’, published in April 2016, it is millennials that place increasing importance on ethical business practices. In the past consumers may not have considered passing judgement on a business by reviewing its ethics and its sustainability practices, however, corporate social responsibility is now considered as a competitive advantage. Indeed, according to a World Economic Forum survey, ethical companies are more successful at building long-term value than their counterparts.

The panel stressed that organisations cannot simply enthuse about objectives, instead a business’ CSR must be fundamentally integrated within their operations. Internally, this requires not only that company cultures are designed to encourage positive behaviours, but that the behaviours and their outcomes are actively monitored and managed. Externally, it requires an approach that brings partners, collaborators, clients and suppliers into the structures and cultures that instil, encourage and govern positive behaviour.

Lopez explained that Forum for the Future is a non-for-profit NGO, set up to cooperate with businesses to improve sustainability. She argued that educating consumers should also form part of ethical supply chain. The panel discussed that organisations and business have a duty to educate consumers on the outcomes of their practices. Palfrey stated that this must be conducted in a way that consumers can feed into a wider framework through which they can judge what is an ethical share of value for producers, suppliers and end-users.

The overall conclusion from the session was that the responsibility for maintaining an ethical and sustainable supply chain is not purely the responsibility of the business. The increasing expectations of consumers should be encouraged to drive these strategies forwards. Manners-Bell stressed that businesses should move on from the mind-set that says CSR strategies compromise on profitability. Instead he explained that pursuing a strategy that balances social responsibility and environmental accountability, as well as economic viability, is a critical step towards long-term, sustainable supply chain management.

To read more of the findings from each of the sessions of the conference, see our Twitter for updates, and sign up to our free Logistics Briefing service here. You can also find out more about what’s involved in Ti conferences and how you can attend on the Ti website here.

Source: Transport Intelligence, June 14, 2016

Author: Lilith Nagorski