Over the past decade, consumers have gasped at headlines exposing the unethical working practices of suppliers to major brands. In 2007 Mattel, known to have been an early industry leader in sustainability, made news when it recalled 19 million toys produced in Chinese factories because they were covered with lead paint.
As more work is outsourced, bad behavior on the part of your suppliers can trickle down and damage your brand. Just one incident can leave a permanent mark on a company’s otherwise sterling reputation.
While most companies don’t have the complicated global supply chains of mega-retailers, all companies depend on suppliers. And when suppliers do not maintain sustainable practices—when they harm workers, their communities or the environment—they damage the company’s reputation, which could result in incalculable financial loss or even hefty fines.
According to the United Nations Global Compact, a practical framework for supply chain sustainability published in 2010, “There are numerous reasons why companies start a supply chain sustainability journey. Primary among them is to ensure compliance with laws and regulations and to adhere to and support international principles for sustainable business conduct. In addition, companies are increasingly taking actions that result in better social, economic and environmental impacts because society expects this.”
By Charity Burns