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Sustainability Won’t Improve Unless Suppliers Are Empowered


By Costas Xyloyoannis, CEO of HICX

Good supplier data is a function of good supplier engagement — and the reverse is also true.

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 for 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.

Supplier data was a struggle, even back then. 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 that he required. This meant that he could demonstrate compliance at the 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 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 learned 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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