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Six tips on engaging suppliers in sustainability

This morning I was chairing the first morning of our “How to engage suppliers in sustainability” conference here in London.

Two of our speakers, Mike Barry from M&S and Roland Waardenburg of Ahold, offered some tips in their session on practical ways to engage suppliers in sustainability.

Here’s the list, Mike’s first, followed by Roland’s:

1) Have a ‘test bed’ of practical examples, to show reluctant suppliers how sustainability can help their business.

2) Engage your employees, who deal with suppliers, so they can sell the benefits of sustainability action in their regular meetings and conversations with suppliers.

3) Benchmark your work, and the work of suppliers, against peers. Show your people, and suppliers, where you are versus your competitors.

4) Encourage suppliers to pick up the phone, or arrange meetings, when they need help. Make sure they feel comfortable talking to your firm, whenever they are unsure or need advice.

5) Help suppliers find and work with NGOs who can help them deliver on sustainability targets. Many may not know who is out there to help them.

6) Work with trade associations and organisations to get the message across (Ahold is a BSCI member) to groups of suppliers and raise the bar in their industry.

Sage advice from two executives who have spent a lot of time with suppliers on these complex issues. More from the conference will soon be available (audio/powerpoints at this link where you can sign up for updates.

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