The panel began with DeHihns invoking imagery of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl to remind the audience that sustainability issues are not as new a concern as they might seem. He then segued to questions of where the goods people use come from and go when they are discarded, using Apple, Microsoft, and Verizon Wireless as examples of companies that provide information in their reporting about their supply chains and how they attempt to conform those chains to ethical principles. DeHihns encouraged the audience as consumers to hold the companies to their promises. The supply chain, DeHihns said, is a particularly visible issue for those concerned with sustainability because it involves tangible goods rather than abstract numbers on a page.
DeHihns then turned to Househam, who spoke about the United Nations’ efforts regarding corporate sustainability and responsible supply chain policies. “There was this realization that the UN needs to work with business to initiate shared values and principles and give a human face to the global market,” Househam said. The efforts of the UN Global Compact grew out of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, and now encompass a set of Sustainable Development Goals with a target date of 2030. The goals comprise 10 principles that build on such standards as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and cover human rights, labor rights, environmental concerns, and anticorruption.
“Where the work needs to happen is in the supply chain,” Househam stated. That’s where the biggest impacts are. That’s where the biggest risks are, and that’s where they have the least amount of awareness or transparency of what’s actually happening.” Aside being the ethically right thing to do, she said, a sustainable supply chain mitigates business disruptions, protects the company’s reputation, reduces materiel costs, and increases labor productivity.
She then turned to the Global Compact’s Practical Guide for…