Transparency is the fourth supply chain success metric

Speakers at the GreenBiz 17 Supply Chain Transparency Summit in Phoenix.
Gordon Murray
Speakers at the GreenBiz 17 Supply Chain Transparency Summit in Phoenix.

Ten years ago, the management directive to corporate supply-chain executives was to focus on cost, quality and on-time delivery. Throughout the recent recession and recovery, executives responsible for supply chain operations have been directed to squeeze out costs while creating more resilience across their supply chains.

Participants at the GreenBiz 17 Supply Chain Transparency summit in Phoenix.In a number of industries, a fourth metric for success recently has emerged — the need for transparency across an organization’s extended supply chain. According to Chris Dubois, senior vice president of leading analytics firm IRI, "Consumers are more concerned than ever about where their food comes from. They are not only making their concerns widely known on social media, they are editing their shopping lists based on those concerns. That’s why the food transparency trend is growing."

The food industry isn’t the only sector concerned with supply chain transparency — and sourcing goods isn’t the only concern for consumers and B to B customers. Increasingly in apparel, automotive and other industries, supply chain executives are being asked to assure the safety of working conditions, treatment of workers and the traceability of products across multiple tiers of the supply chain.

This year, GreenBiz held its first Supply Chain Transparency Summit, a half-day, invitation-only working session bringing together corporate sustainability and supply-chain leaders to discuss strategies and best practices in building and communicating sustainable, transparent supply chains.

The goal of the summit was not just to listen to presentations, but to identify barriers to achieving greater supply-chain transparency and create actions that can be carried out by attendees and their organizations. The results of these discussions have been compiled in the recently released Supply Chain Transparency Summit report.

In the report, we highlight the challenges facing nine industries. But the keys to moving forward with greater transparency were identified during our discussions of the many actors across the supply chain that can work to improve transparency, ranging from technology providers to NGOs, brands and certification agencies. Both long-term and shorter-term efforts were surfaced as part of what we hope to be an ongoing dialogue.

The Supply Chain Transparency Summit represents the launch of GreenBiz’s ongoing efforts to dig deeper into the challenges for all organizations seeking greater supply chain transparency and to highlight emerging strategies for tackling this important topic. GreenBiz will be publishing articles, conducting webcasts and hosting workshops at VERGE and GreenBiz 18 to help advance greater supply chain transparency. Let us know if you have a story or ideas for us to cover.