Focus on sustainability is a conscious business decision

Now the moment has arrived, and German politics has taken the next step with the compromise on the Supply Chain Act. Even if the pressure resulting from this law is not massive, another motive has been added to the many motives for a company to dedicate itself to the topic of sustainability. But there is no such thing as the one and only sustainability. Based on the motivation, there are a multitude of possibilities as to which concrete tasks arise for the supply chain and procurement. The clarification of the motivation is the basis for the further development.

A question of leadership

The leadership team of a company should provide the motivation and direction, because many examples have shown that a island solution by one department will not achieve anything and the possible effect of sustainable action will fizzle out. A company can respond to external factors and define this requirement at least as a minimum goal, this can be laws such as the Supply Chain Act, changing industry standards and required certifications such as the Green Button, „UTZ certified“ but also customer requirements (e.g. climate-neutral production by 2025). However, there is also the possibility to consider internal motivation such as the reduction of resource waste, optimized market positioning, the securing of resources that are becoming scarce, and even employer branding more strongly in the weighting of the orientation. However, a real and sustainable change will only occur if, on the one hand, the selected aspects are reflected in the company goals but also in the affected division goals. The alignment may even make it necessary to supplement the company’s own vision and mission in the direction of sustainable aspects in terms of climate friendliness, resource conservation or even value preservation.

Impact on the own supply chain

Only when the overall strategies and goals have been defined does an analysis of the effects and necessary tasks and work steps make sense. The effects can be externally perceptible but can also only be communicated internally. For example, it can have a massive impact on the product and demand management of the company’s own products as well as the product lifecycle management, which must be discussed intensively with R&D, sales department and the customers. It can also simply lead to sustainability criteria being given appropriate weighting in any purchasing decisions. Likewise, possible certification processes for one’s own company, the supply chain or even one’s own products can be sought, which have an important influence from a sales perspective. From an internal perspective, there can be a massive impact on indirect demand and its demand structures, as well as the need to increase the transparency of my supply chain, to adapt audit processes and CSR requirements. Less directly tangible are the effects on the values and culture of a company, but this process should also be managed and accompanied in order to anchor the sustainability claims of a company in the long term. Precisely because the classic saying – culture eats strategy for breakfast still holds true, strategy and culture should go hand in hand here. However, an important aspect that should not be neglected is the effect of the strategy on the employees and their possible benefits. For example, a decision in the direction of new mobility (e.g., special promotion of e-cars, company bicycles, public transport subsidies) may be very well received by some employee groups, but others may feel that the status quo, which has been based on large engines, is deteriorating.

The orientation of a company towards sustainability should not be a trend but should happen out of conviction. Those who allow themselves to be steered by external factors alone may be given a stamp of „they have always been committed“. But who wants that? Therefore, think one step ahead already today. We will gladly accompany you with our Adconia team and professional cooperation partners to find the right way to a sustainability focus.


Rainer den Ouden

Partner, ADCONIA