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Businesses can win at ESG by empowering suppliers

Sustainability Mag

By Costas Xyloyiannis, CEO of HICX

Too often the quest to meet ESG standards ignores suppliers but, with the greater opportunities that data offers, we see the process becoming sustainable

In the early 2000s I was a recent software engineering graduate. Along with a friend and fellow graduate, I landed some project work with a major pharmaceutical company. The CEO, who had just signed up to the UN Global Compact, needed to know how sustainable their supply chain was. He tasked the Chief Procurement Officer (CPO) to audit their suppliers – some 150,000 of them.

Back then already, supplier data was a struggle. The CPO needed to know who all these suppliers were and whether they complied with a list of principles the company had committed to. It was our job to develop the platform from which this could be determined. Long story short, the CPO was able to gain the visibility which he required. This meant that he could demonstrate compliance at board level, making the project a success.

It was exciting for us to witness the role that data played in making supply chains more visible. In the 20 years that have followed, we’ve had the opportunity to explore this topic with some of the world’s biggest brands. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from this experience, it’s that good supplier data is a function of good supplier engagement. And importantly, the reverse is also true.

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