|Incorporating Sustainable Development Behavior into Supplier Selection|
|by Larry Nitardy, ComAssist|
|Management Spring 2012|
As we work to make our companies more sustainable, it’s necessary to evaluate not only ourselves but
also those we select to help us achieve an improved “triple bottom line.” Our vendors and suppliers
today will need to be collaborative partners tomorrow if we want to achieve more impactful
financial, societal and environmental results.
To evaluate a potential sustainable collaborator, consider a teachable, measurable and repeatable process that outlines the questions and judges the responses. These might be the same guidelines used to drive your internal sustainable development efforts. When choosing sustainable development partners, consider the following issues.
Culture and Commitment
1. Environmental/Planet Behavior
2. Societal / People Behaviors
Collaborative suppliers need to be prepared to “teach” your teams about their products’ sustainability value and encourage the use of materials and services in the best ways to achieve triple bottom lines. Over time, “teaching” should become like price, service and quality – a basic qualification to becoming a collaborative partner.
Treat: When evaluating “treat,” we are basically looking at how a product or service meets all environmental, health and safety regulations. But ultimately, all of us will benefit when we favor companies that go beyond the basic requirements and show propensity toward, and attention to, not only meeting regulations but reducing personal, community and environmental risk at a fair cost to us. Consider the following:
Strong sustainability collaborators will show very visible signs that they treat sustainable product development and the triple bottom line improvement seriously in their content management and story telling. They exhibit pride in their health and safety performance and talk about how they use it to their advantage.
Tout: Human resource departments see that the best new talent wants to work for the most “sustainable” companies, and they want to know about the sustainability involvement of the employees. Potential partners can help achieve an attractive workplace. We might want to know the following:
3. Financial/Profit Behaviors
Time: Our best partners will pay attention to “time” behavior in the development of their products, helping to minimize the time their product is in our supply chain and maximize the margin gained from that time.
Talent: When considering “talent” as a behavior, consider the contribution of intellectual property and its value. The best collaborative partners will have a plan and execution steps in place to increase the value contribution of their product and service, as well as improve its impact on the world around us.
Treasure: At the end of the day we all need collaborators who have our financial well-being in mind. Fundamentally, the most valued collaborators must have the potential to help lessen our unit costs over time, while achieving a higher sustainable value-add to our stakeholders. Think about these aspects of treasure:
Our partners of the future will need to be fully integrated functions of our value chain. “Treasure” may be discussed last on this list, but it’s most always first on our minds. The number one goal for “for-profit” organizations should always remain achieving a level of profit that sustains our existence.
In sustainable development, it can be said we need to “Begin with Never Ending in Mind© ” – a goal of maximizing our present while preserving a future for those who will follow us. If that is true, it certainly follows that stewardship behavior is what will achieve that goal. The behaviors reviewed can be evaluated and measured, not only in our supply chain but in manufacturing, marketing and logistics as well. Maybe the best way to evaluate our potential partners is to look at them just as we would look at ourselves by asking, “How are we behaving as a sustainable enterprise?”
Larry Nitardy is founder and president of ComAssist, a boutique commercial assistance practice providing coaching, consulting and contracted services on both qualitative and quantitative methods to grow revenues, increase margins and map and execute sustainable development. He can be contacted at email@example.com or by calling 423.312.3439.