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Human sustainability

Annie Delaney discusses human sustainability within a businesses supply chain.

Human sustainability was identified earlier as one of the four pillars of sustainability. Let’s explore it a little further now since the human capital of the organisation is critical to achieving change, being a sustainable business, and maintaining this state.

Human sustainability extends beyond the business’ immediate employees. A broader definition encompasses all stakeholders, such as, employees, suppliers, investors and workers and communities. The idea of the supply chain as a network is a useful way to think about this, especially since the majority of a business’ carbon footprint can be accounted for in the supply chain (Benn et al., 2014).

Supply chain networks include:

  • Head office employees (CEO, managers, designers, marketing, public relations, operations, buyers, corporate social responsibility [CSR] officers etc.)
  • Importer/exporter intermediaries
  • Production networks that include factories and component suppliers in supplier countries and suppliers of raw materials
  • Logistics and transportation contacts

Managing human capital across the supply chain is challenging. Businesses in labour intensive industries need to value all the human capital involved in making their products: their direct employees, workers in factories, suppliers, distribution and logistics. This means that any business, even a small one, initially needs to invest time and money in some key activities to ensure it’s confident that the supply chain meets its own sustainability standards.

Being transparent about where the organisation’s products are made and how sustainable practices are being maintained can provide a good story to consumers.

Think of the elements that differentiate a traditional supply chain with a sustainable one.

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Business Futures: Sustainable Business Through Green HR

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