IBM Calls Suppliers to Account on Sustainability

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How do we move the larger corporate and business world toward sustainability? Sometimes all it takes is one big supplier to hold its suppliers accountable, and all of a sudden, there is a sea change.

That’s the position that IBM has put its suppliers in. As announced at the Eco Forum, IBM has asked its suppliers — all 28,000+ of them — to do three things:

  1. Find and employ their own management systems for sustainability
  2. Set at least three voluntary goals or objectives that makes sense for their business and that they can achieve
  3. Publicly disclose how they are doing.

Although there is no official accountability associated with this (and what “publicly disclose” means isn’t clear), the concept is sound. It’s a subtle, it’s low-pressure, but it’s a clear signal that is being sent from a major brand marketer that adds to the mix. Sustainability is becoming mainstream.

The more other brand marketers do along the same lines, the more quickly the momentum will build. It’s one thing to take your own steps toward sustainability, but when you ask your suppliers to do the same, that momentum is ratcheted up more quickly. Is there something you can do — some influence you can wield — in the area of supplier relationships that will make a difference to the planet?

To see a YouTube video discussing this issue and others related to IBM’s position on sustainability, click here.

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