The word ethical is on everyone’s lips, especially for products, but what about how those products are made and delivered? Can a brand know if its products are ethical? Is it really possible to make the entire supply chain ethical?
An ethical supply chain involves all the operations that take place to produce and deliver a product. This includes how a product is made and where the primary materials used come from; who makes it and their working conditions; and how the product is transported. Global supply chains are complex, so ensuring ethical operations depends on everyone involved, including company employees, suppliers, customers, and business partners. They all have a crucial role to play.
An ethical supply chain is beneficial for everyone
The key to an ethical supply chain is information. Important aspects, such as employment contracts and working conditions, sourcing of materials, environmental performance and financial procedures need to be monitored, and organisations must be able to identify any breaches of their ethical policies by suppliers in order to act on them quickly. Ethical supply chains are not just useful for marketing and reputational purposes, they offer real benefits for businesses and consumers.
An organisation must be able to access information about its suppliers and their activities, as well as making this information accessible to partners and customers. Keeping a close eye on all the stages of your supply chain not only gives you a chance to make the operations ethical, but it will also enable you to keep up with environmental, market and political conditions, and ultimately provide your customers with more information.
Modern supply chains are global, complex, and multi-tiered, and this makes it easy for unethical practices to occur without a brand’s knowledge. But with today’s supply chain technology, this is no longer an acceptable excuse. Companies can no longer simply know what their supplier is doing. They also have to know what their supplier does, and their supplier’s suppliers, and so on. For example, in the fashion industry, brands should know exactly where their cotton is grown, who made their clothes, what the working conditions in the factory are, and so on.
Consumer priorities have changed
Nowadays, consumers are now more informed and discerning, and this is a very positive thing. Recent research has shown that most consumers would switch to a brand they consider more ethical. And, contrary to popular opinion, many customers are also willing to pay more for ethical and sustainable products.
An ethical supply chain is possible
Fortunately, the improvements that supply chain professionals around the world have introduced into their operations make ensuring compliance with ethical policies and practices much more feasible. Supply chain professionals can now provide companies with all the information they need, at all times. Knowledge is power and having all this information about your product is good for companies, good for employees, good for the planet, good for the consumer, and is a step in the right direction for transforming the global supply chain.