Let’s include the suppliers in the discussion

There is an elephant in the room – and addressing it could really benefit all of us in the industry. The elephant could be called “the absence of level-eyed partnership and collaboration between brands and suppliers”.

Like in most industries, we have all grown up with the saying ‘The customer is king’. And this is the way suppliers and manufacturers tend to see their clients, when it comes to sustainability. The brands tell their manufacturing partner the suitable priorities, or how to meet the demands for documentation, chemical specifications, code of conducts or labor conditions.

“Telling” may be effective in the short term – but can any business be expected to be genuinely engaged and committed, and make long term investments, when they are not involved in the prioritization and decision process? Or perhaps they do not even understand it, because of cultural differences?

Sustainability cannot, and must not, be anything near a monarchy. Each player has a role that is indispensable in the bigger picture. Therefore, each party along the entire supply chain, from field to end-customer, should own their part of the sustainability equation, and be empowered and entitled to take ownership of it.

Just like brands know their products and possibly end-consumers best, manufacturers know their business of making our goods: in depth, and often with passion, and likely also with a fierce sense of seeking a better and more successful future. It is only through level-eyed, rather than hierarchical, collaboration and partnership that real progress can be made.

How can all parties in the supply chain be pro-active players rather than reactive elements? If we as an industry can sit down and discuss that on equal terms, we will have a much brighter future ahead of us.

Pamela Ravasio, Head of CSR & Sustainability
European Outdoor Group

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Pamela Ravasio
melanie.haas@norragency.com