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Ceres Releases Sustainable Supply Chain Assessment Tool

For many companies, the biggest sustainability risks they face are embedded in the supply chain. While some companies and industry sectors have developed fairly sophisticated methods for assessing and improving the sustainability performance of their suppliers, Ceres says a year-long survey of best practices revealed that most focus on either environmental or social impacts.

The shareholder advocacy group released a Supplier Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) this week in an effort to give companies a tool to help address both focus areas, which include issues such as climate change, water scarcity, human rights, governance and stakeholder engagement.

Ceres’ analysis of 600 major U.S. companies revealed that more than 70 percent take only minimal steps, if any at all, to engage their suppliers on these critical business issues, giving those that do a competitive advantage.

The SAQ was designed with the industrial goods sector in mind, and for companies that are just beginning to address sustainability issues in their supply chains. However, Ceres said it will be useful as a “conversation starter” for all companies seeking to strengthen their supply chain engagement and assess sustainability risks therein.

The SAQ is part of a broader strategy to raise the bar of supply chain sustainability performance. “Traditionally, supply chain management has focused on whether a particular supplier facility is complying with certain minimum standards or codes of conduct related to treatment of workers or environmental impacts,” Ceres said in a release. “We are now seeing a paradigm shift from supply chain management to supply chain improvement. For any company that expects to thrive in the 21st century global economy, higher standards for supplier social and environmental performance, and robust measurement and transparency of that performance, is essential.”

Ceres said it will work with a select group of companies to promote uptake of the Questionnaire and also with its network of institutional investors who want to understand how supply chain issues might impact their portfolio companies.

@Bart_King is a freelance writer and communications consultant.


Bart King is the principal and founder of New Growth Communications, a network of affiliated content producers and strategists serving clients in the emerging green economy. Follow him @bart_king and on LinkedIn.

[Read more about Bart King]


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