Recently, we released our 2012 Best of Sustainable Supply. It’s a collection of the “best of the best” innovative sustainable sourcing programs in the McDonald’s supply chain, covering topics such as Climate/Energy, Animal Welfare, Employee Wellness and more.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the years, it’s that we can’t achieve our sustainability goals alone. In no area is this more important than in our supply chain. That’s why we work with suppliers who share our values and vision for sustainable sourcing along three foundational areas of impact: Ethical, Environmental and Economic.
It’s also critical that we continue to work with outside experts. We’ve long worked with organizations like Business for Social Responsibility to help inform and measure our efforts. Kai Robertson, Director of Food, Beverage and Agriculture Advisory Services for BSR was a member of our Best of Sustainable Supply selection committee this year. She shares her insights on the learnings she took away from this process below. Take a look at her remarks and the Best of Sustainable Supply and let me know your thoughts.
1. You had an inside look in to how McDonald’s and our suppliers approach sustainable supply. What did you think? Any surprises?
I was pleased to see the wide range of submissions McDonald’s received as this reflects the broad range of actions companies are undertaking. It was also inspiring to see that companies of all sizes shared their stories, confirming that it doesn’t matter whether a company is large or small – all are in a position to, and can find benefit from, incorporating more sustainable practices. In addition, reading about the varied paths McDonald’s suppliers are taking reinforces that there’s significant value to be gained by connecting with diverse stakeholders – whether it’s actively involving employees, engaging consumers, partnering with local communities, or collaborating even deeper along the supply chain.
2. Where do you think we’ve got it right and where do you think we need to focus more so we can do more?
Through its own actions, and programs like Best of Sustainable Supply, McDonald’s is serving as an important voice to encourage collaboration. As today’s marketplace changes ever more rapidly, companies are increasingly interacting in different ways across the boundaries of the traditional value chain, collaborating not just upstream and downstream but also sideways.
I agree with McDonald’s point of view that ‘success breeds success.’ By highlighting the activities of its suppliers across the spectrum of sustainability issues, McDonald’s provides other companies with ideas and inspiration. McDonald’s could build on its efforts and further support the creation and adoption of innovative practices by also:
- providing an opportunity for suppliers to share their challenges and remaining obstacles, and support discussions about the steps needed to address them.
- supporting a more dynamic conversation that allows for an ongoing exchange of ideas; for example, through communities of practice around a common issue or a forum for ongoing discussion.
- exploring the emerging use of open innovation platforms, along the lines of the portal recently launched by Unilever -http://www.unilever.com/innovation/collaborating-w
3. What do you think McDonald’s should learn from all of this?
I view the large number of submissions McDonald’s received from its supplier community as indicative of the pride companies have in sharing the innovative ways in which they’re promoting or adopting more sustainable practices. And When employees are satisfied with their organization’s CSR commitment, studies have shown they also report high levels of engagement with their firms, including believing their employer is interested in their well-being.
I think there are ongoing opportunities for more to be learned from McDonald’s efforts to date. Bringing together, for example, the collective insights from both Best of Green with Best of Sustainable Supply could generate valuable learnings internally across the McDonald’s system and with the supplier community. As McDonald’s looks into the future, I recommend casting a wide net to identify how else McDonald’s could serve as a catalyst for ongoing improvements.