The 3S Scorecard — A Valuable Tool for Promoting Socially Responsible Sourcing

S. Jimmy Gandhi, Ph.D., California State University, Northridge (

Christine Bullen, Ph.D., Stevens Institute of Technology (

Wanda Lopuch, Ph.D., MDA Associates (


Global Sourcing continues to grow as a strategic business tool worldwide. Sustainability has increasingly become a key aspect of global sourcing, addressing the social, environmental and economic aspects of sourcing agreements. It is important to remember that sustainability is truly feasible when all three aspects are considered equally. However, despite this, the economic and environmental aspects have received greater attention than the social aspect. This could be because the social aspect of sustainable global sourcing is complex as it requires looking at the impacts on the individuals, families, communities and culture, and universal metrics have not been devised to take these aspects into consideration.

In order to deal with these challenges, The Global Sourcing Council is working on developing a new tool for measuring socially responsible sourcing, the 3S Scorecard. This tool can be used by clients, providers, advisors, governmental entities and professional organizations involved in global sourcing to promote and emphasize corporate social responsibility in the sourcing supply chain.


In the early 1990s, the Green Journal was launched, and a handful of niche companies such as Ben & Jerry’s and Timberland were integrating the social consciences of their founders into the capitalist model of business, by incorporating sustainable practices into their strategies. But these companies were the exception rather than the rule for American corporate culture. In most sectors, driven by short term profit demanded by Wall Street, there has been a resistance in the corporate world to the adoption of sustainable business practices.  This has persisted for decades and reflects their complexity and the initial investment that is required. However, some businesses started to recognize consumer preferences for environmental and social values, which drove their purchasing decisions. Gap, Inc. was an early example of an enterprise that was boycotted by consumers who disapproved of the lack of socially responsible business practices th, 2011). Gap realized that consumers would not take kindly to their not being socially responsible, which resulted in management making several changes to their corporate policy on sustainability and social responsibility. This transformed Gap into a socially responsible, well respected organization. Furthermore, as consumers voted with their wallets, other big business, including those in the IT and financial sectors, started to listen. In the first decade of the 21st century, large businesses such as Citigroup, NewsCorp and IBM committed billions of dollars to sustainable business practices.  Since sustainability has been given close attention only in the last few years, it is still a major issue for corporate America and is thought of as the major corporate challenge of the 21st century ( 2007).

Bringing sustainable and socially responsible practices into the supply chain, specifically into global sourcing, is an additional corporate challenge. Awareness about sustainability is growing exponentially and sustainability measures will take on broader impacts throughout the supply chains, which will also increase transparency. More companies will “walk the talk” by matching sustainable brand images with internal company behavior. It is clear that sustainability is becoming increasingly important in the 21st century and organizations should pay careful attention to measuring all aspects of sustainability of their projects.

Sustainability in Sourcing – Solving the Paradox

In today’s globalized economy, global sourcing is a business strategy and business practice that most major businesses are involved in, either directly or indirectly. The roots of global sourcing are a need to drive cost reduction and support competitive positioning to bring greater profitability to an enterprise.  Although over the years of globalization, the focus of sourcing has shifted to include wider goals such as better quality, increased efficiency and improved flexibility, the “success” of sourcing projects is still often measured in the dollar contribution to the bottom line. Organizations can use global sourcing to achieve economic benefits as well as sustainable growth by balancing short term gains with the model of long term growth. This balance can be achieved by incorporating sustainable practices into the organization’s overall global sourcing strategy. However, this is not an easy task and the inclusion of sustainable practices in sourcing is becoming of increasing concern in the 21st century. Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) and Information Technology Outsourcing (ITO) sectors are under pressure in their organizations to reduce costs. Therefore, while the initial adoption of sustainability, particularly social sustainability, principles may increase the cost of doing business in the short term, the forward looking executives in these industries seek a long-term solution.

The major aspects of sustainability in sourcing address the social, environmental and the economic aspects, as shown in Exhibit 1 in The University of Michigan’s sustainability model, (University of Michigan, 2002). We can see that the area where sustainability is truly feasible is when all the three aspects are considered equally. Only considering any two out of the three aspects of sustainability will not work in the long run. For example, if we merely consider the social and environmental aspect of sustainability for a project, it is merely bearable, i.e., it is possible but only in the short term as organizations will not be inclined to undertake the proposition if it did not make economic sense. Similarly, if only the economic and social aspect of sustainability is considered, it would be equitable, but would not be sustainable for the long term, considering the current focus on cost reduction.

Exhibit 1. Three Aspects of Sustainability (Adopted from the 2002 University of Michigan Sustainability Assessment)


However, despite this identification of the need for equal importance being given to all three aspects of sustainability, the economic and environmental aspects have received greater attention than the social aspect. There is no set definition of what constitutes a socially responsible business and it may vary by country and cultural norms.  It requires looking at the impacts on the individual, families, communities (local and national) and culture. Measuring these impacts also requires a longer time horizon than the economic and environmental factors.

All enterprises are focused on the creation of shareholder value by embracing opportunities and managing risks. The concept of sustainability involves harnessing the market’s potential for sustainable products and services while at the same time employing sustainable practices to reduce costs and risks.  In order to recognize this, the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) was established to offer a quantification of a business’ sustainability strategy and their management of sustainable opportunities, risks and costs (DJSI, 2010). The most viable and profitable businesses in DJSI are those that implement sustainability into their overall strategy. In fact, the DJSI (North America) covers the leading 20% of the companies in terms of sustainability of the 600 biggest North American companies in the Dow Jones Global Total Stock Market Index. These “best of breed” companies are evaluated on two major measures: economic performance and sustainability measures.  It is seen that there is a correlation between these two factors and that companies which embrace sustainability are the ones that have good economic growth. This correlation or trend is not surprising since companies realize that new consumers of their products and services, although price sensitive, are increasingly looking beyond price itself when it comes to making purchasing decisions. HP piloted the green PC recycling program not only because it was socially desirable, but also because it produced economic gains. Similarly, the incremental expenses by Walmart in implementing its global sustainability program and monitoring suppliers are not viewed as additional costs that will lower their short term gains, but are thought of as a strategic investment in the brand value and acquisition of new customers, which will produce sound profits.

Importance of Metrics in Sourcing

Technical and economic performance metrics have been developed and implemented over time through the use of Service Level agreements in global sourcing engagements. However social sustainability metrics are complex and have not been widely implemented. Despite these challenges, businesses worldwide have realized that consumers are becoming increasing well informed and will not support their business if they do not take the social aspect of sourcing into consideration. Thus sustainability and social responsibility programs are being adopted by both public and private companies, not solely based on becoming politically correct, but because these programs make economic sense in the long run. It is for this reason that companies such as Walmart have started developing scorecards to evaluate the extent to which their providers are using sustainable practices. This effort started in 2009.

The UN Global Compact (United Nations, 2010) is a practical framework for companies that are committed to sustainability and responsible business practices. It seeks to align business operations and strategies everywhere with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption. The Ecolabel (Wikipedia, 2010), is a labeling system for food and consumer products. Ecolabels are a form of sustainability measurement directed at consumers, intended to make it easy to take environmental concerns into account when shopping. Ecolabeling is often voluntary, but green stickers are mandated by law in North America for major appliances and automobiles.  There is even an application developed for the iPhone, which enables the user to measure the environmental impact of the product by reading its bar code (Ecosalon, 2009). These efforts demonstrate that organizations and government entities are beginning to recognize the customer interest in the life-cycle impacts of the products and services they consume.

Challenges Faced While Establishing Metrics for Socially Responsible Sourcing

Sustainability is a value judgment that will inherently mean different things to different people. This is particularly true in the case of social sustainability as social values vary from culture to culture.

Moreover, socially responsible sourcing is a relatively new field. However, to guide sustainability action, here are guiding principles of social sustainability, which include the following:

  • Equity: When individuals have access to sufficient resources to participate fully in their community and have opportunities for personal development and advancement and there is a fair distribution of resources among communities to facilitate full participation and collaboration.
  • Social Inclusion and Interaction:  This includes both the right and the opportunity to participate in and enjoy all aspects of community life and interact with other community members.
  • Security: This entails individuals and communities having economic security and having confidence that they live in a safe, supportive and healthy environment.
  • Adaptability: This aspect includes resiliency for both individuals and communities and the ability to respond appropriately and creatively to change. Adaptability is a process of building upon what already exists, and learning from and building upon experiences from both within and outside the community.

As societies are modernizing, particularly in the last decade, the social sustainability themes and domains are shifting from traditional themes such as housing, education, employment and human rights to more emerging themes such as empowerment of people, involvement in strategic decisions, health, safety and overall quality of life. This complicates the process of establishing valid metrics to quantify socially responsible sourcing. Global sourcing increasingly involves the management of several providers introducing more complexity in collecting data and in recognizing differing social structures based on regions, countries, and cultures. When the entire life cycle of a product is considered, many organizations are involved to understand the “womb to tomb” context, and it is hard to predict whether the providers will adopt the practices of social responsibility. For example, at a large organization such as Walmart, there are several layers of providers in the supply chain. This creates increased complexity and difficulty in quantifying the intangible benefits of socially responsible sourcing, such as quality of life and empowerment of people over time.

Most global sourcing projects have at least three major stakeholders, namely, the company that outsources the work (client), the company that is going to perform the outsourced work (provider) and the end user who uses the product or is a beneficiary of the service. Since these stakeholders could have varying business interests, it is extremely challenging to be able to come up with a set of uniform metrics that would work from the perspective of all three stakeholders involved.

The Global Sourcing Council (GSC) and the 3S Scorecard

The Global Sourcing Council (GSC) is a non-profit organization which was founded to focus on helping organizations from all sectors involved in global sourcing. The GSC works with both the client and the provider and tries to help them achieve their economic goals without sacrificing sustainability. One way the GSC is working to achieve this goal is by developing a new tool for measuring socially responsible sourcing called the 3S Scorecard. Several other organizations involved in the sourcing field have also expressed the need and interest to develop scorecards that enable companies to integrate sustainability into their strategy. One of the scorecards being currently developed is the Responsive Business Scorecard (RBS) (Woerd, 2004) which tries to enable companies to score on “profit, people and planet” and at the same time helps them to integrate stakeholder demands into programs to improve performance.

The focus of the GSC is on the full range of sustainable practices as they can be used in the global sourcing marketplace. This includes the environment, employment practices, legal practices, ethical standards, cultural and community impacts and more.  “The 3S Scorecard” is a measurement tool for sustainable and socially responsible sourcing practices that can be used by stakeholders involved in global sourcing to promote and emphasize corporate social responsibility in the sourcing supply chain. For a client of sourcing services, the 3S Scorecard would serve as a tool to evaluate and compare service providers on their compatibility with the client’s own corporate sustainability directives. For service providers, the 3S Scorecard could be used as a tool to emphasize the 3S focus and, therefore, serve as a competitive advantage over those providers who do not embrace the 3S principles.

3S Scorecard Metrics for Social Sustainability

Scorecards are an effective way of evaluating and then maximizing partner performance. The purpose of the 3S Scorecard is for the client or external evaluators to be able to evaluate the extent of implementation of social sustainability initiatives by the service providers. In order to be able to do this, the 3S scorecard development team is implementing several metrics such as:

  • Employee Satisfaction
  • Employee involvement in decision making
  • Working conditions & employee safety
  • Working hours
  • Paid vacation
  • Health of employees
  • Diversity of employees
  • Transparency
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Employee rights
  • Reduction of “us” versus “them” mentality between management and employees
  • Salary scale capped at certain level between the lowest and highest paid positions
  • Impacts on local culture and attitudes toward the global sourcing work.

Each of the above metrics can be evaluated from two perspectives:

  • Each metric can be evaluated regarding the extent to which it is implemented by the supplier and
  • The perceived importance of the actual implementation of that metric could be gauged.

Both perspectives would be scored on a scale of 1-10, by the involved employees. Then the product of the two ratings would be calculated in order to come up with a total “social sustainability score”. However, the challenge facing the developers of the 3S scorecard is that the scoring of these metrics (from both perspectives) could vary a great deal from country to country, or even from region to region in global sourcing destinations such as India and China. Sustainability in general is a subjective term and social sustainability is particularly vulnerable to this subjectivity and differing interpretation as people have different social values and what might be acceptable in one culture might not be tolerable in another.

Benefits of the 3S Scorecard

Despite the challenges caused by the cultural aspect of social sustainability, the 3S scorecard will be designed to provide benefits to various stakeholders involved in the sourcing process. Some of the primary benefits are:

  1. For a client of sourcing services, the 3S scorecard will serve as a tool to differentiate among service providers based on principles of sustainable and socially responsible sourcing practices.
  2. For service providers, the 3S scorecard will be used as a tool to strengthen and emphasize their sustainability focus allowing them to use this focus as a competitive differentiator. An additional benefit of the scorecard is to provide a roadmap for further organizational development.
  3. An independent tool, the 3S Scorecard will allow both clients and providers to align their practices to support their working toward compatible sustainable practices.
  4. Other stakeholders in the sourcing process, such as advisors, consultants, government bodies, or professional organizations, such as the GSC, will use the 3S scorecard to evaluate the stakeholders, promote sustainable practices and recognize leadership in the field of sustainable and socially responsible sourcing. For example, the Global Sourcing Council established its 3S award in 2008 and continues to solicit applications from provider candidates based on short video submissions. More information on the upcoming 3SAward competition can be found at


The 3S scorecard is a work in progress by the GSC and involves evaluating and further developing current scorecards that are being used by organizations involved in global sourcing. The current provider scorecards evaluate social sustainability only to the extent of checking if it is being implemented or not, that is a simple “yes/no” approach that organizations are able to use in evaluating social sustainability. The 3S scorecard intends to measure the extent to which these social sustainability metrics are being implemented by service providers and come up with a “social sustainability score”. The 3S Scorecard will provide the clients with a tool to evaluate the various service provider options and go with the ones whose social sustainability values align with their own.

Establishing metrics for sustainable and socially responsible sourcing is a daunting task for most organizations. The challenge is to establish a fair and uniform way to evaluate organizations from across the globe, regardless of their location or local practices. This task is made more complex by the use of multiple providers associated with one product or service.  One of the most difficult tasks is establishing metrics that can be applied across national boundaries, across a variety of cultures and under many different legal systems. Since this is not possible considering the large number of sourcing markets that the US deals with, in Phase 1 of the development process, the 3S scorecard will be designed specifically for the largest global sourcing marketplaces on a national level. Phase 2 will involve the national level scorecards being fine-tuned to be applicable at regional levels. This would be beneficial for large outsourcing markets such as India and China where the organizational culture could vary significantly from one part of the country to another.



DJSI (2010). Corporate Sustainability, (Accessed on August 31, 2010)

University_of_Michigan (2002). Sustainability Assessment and Reporting, University of Michigan

Woerd, F. v. d. and T. v. d. Brink (2004). “Feasibility of a responsive business scorecard — a pilot study” Journal of Business Ethics, 55:173-186.


Wanda Lopuch passionately advocates sustainable global development, and oversees many strategic initiatives focused on promoting best practices in socially responsible sourcing. She is the President of MDA Associates, Inc., a consulting organization focusing on “greening” the global operations and their supply chains while improving economic outcomes of businesses in the life sciences, IT, and financial sectors. With 20 years of experience in the pharmaceutical and telecommunication sectors spanning across the United States, Europe, and East Asia, Dr. Lopuch guided international teams for maximizing performance in multinational, multicultural and multi-functional projects. Prior to establishing MDA Associates Inc., Dr. Lopuch was the president of Medical Data Management Inc., the company she founded and grew into a multi-million dollar business with locations in 7 countries. Dr. Lopuch holds a Ph.D. in Administration and Supervision from Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI, and an MS in Computer Sciences from the Wroclaw University of Technology in Wroclaw, Poland. She lectures on various aspects of sustainable and socially responsible business.

Christine V. Bullen is a faculty member at the Howe School of Management, Stevens Institute of Technology where she is the coordinator of the four-course concentration/major on global sourcing in the MSIS and MBA programs. She is currently conducting research on an IT workforce deployment model, looking at the impact of sourcing strategy on the in house needs for IT skills. She earned her MS from MIT and her Ph.D. from Stevens. She is also the former chair, president and board member of the Global Sourcing Council.  You may reach Christine at

From the President

By Diana d’Ambra

As we celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream speech”, many commentators have stepped back and observed how far we have come as well as how far we have to go.  But I would like to focus on how a society changes.  How do we change our values?  How do we change what is important or acceptable?  Fifty years ago, it was acceptable to not serve Blacks in a restaurant. Or refer to Blacks by a commonly used derogatory word that can no longer be written or spoken in public, now referred to as the “n” word.   How did that change occur?

Another example here is smoking.  Twenty years ago, people smoked at their office desks.  Now they are barely permitted to smoke outside the office building.  The number of smokers has decreased dramatically over time.  The social acceptability of smoking has waned.  Many personal ads specify “no smokers” in a way that other traits would not be so distinctly omitted.   This change did not occur overnight, nor was it linear, but it did occur and change the way we think about smoking.

Some of the change reflects new laws, but legality is often a laggard in social movements, catching up with the movement, not leading it although both bounce off of each other.  The media reports on it and with the rise of the Internet, IM’ing, Facebook and social media in general, this is an increasingly important factor.

So, how do we as a society or as a person determine whether it is acceptable to us to buy, especially as consumers?

The news has been abuzz with all aspects of sustainable and responsible sourcing, although sometimes not broached as such.  But it is having an impact on how people think about buying and sourcing.

The fallout from the Bangladeshi factory fire continues although at a slower cadence.  The ability of Bangladesh to respond effectively through legislation as well as the concurrent cultural and financial change is still being followed and reported on.  There is increased emphasis and push for sustainable sourcing, which not only may improve firm’s bottom lines but provide a market differentiator to consumers increasingly aware of the power of their purchase.  And as the media more consistently reports on sustainability and sourcing issues, reputation is of importance too.

Recently, the role of corporate responsibility towards the environment has expanded to not just safe working conditions but fair and equitable pay..  Note, this is not necessarily “legal” boundaries but ethical and moral ones.  Just in the past few weeks, in the United States, hundreds of fast food workers across the country are walking off their jobs to demand higher wages.

But the complexity of these issues as well as their interaction can hardly be understated.  A firm can have a stellar record or reputation in one field, such as sustainable supply chain sourcing, while it is under pressure for hiring at and paying lower, but legally permitted wages.

As we as a society gathers more information and change our behavior accordingly, what will we purchase?  What will be acceptable?  How will we judge it?  What will we be willing to pay for it?  What is our personal and moral judgment?

Diana d’Ambra, President of the Global Sourcing Council, is a consultant at Cortelyou Consulting. She may be contacted at

Global Sourcing Council (GSC) and 3S Awards 2013 Partner with Chrysler Group LLC to Deliver Sustainability & CSR Training

Global Sourcing Council (GSC) and 3S Awards 2013 Partner with Chrysler Group LLC to Deliver Sustainability & CSR Training

3S Awards 2013 – Sustainable & Socially Responsible Sourcing Awards –

NEW YORK, N.Y. (June 28, 2013) – The Global Sourcing Council (GSC) is pleased to announce a partnership with Chrysler Group LLC to collaborate on the organization and execution of the 3S Awards Boot Campin sustainable business practices. This training program is designed for the winners of the 2013 GSC 3S Awards in Sustainable & Socially Responsible Sourcing. (

The training will be conducted at the Chrysler Group World Headquarters and Technology Center in Auburn Hills, Mich. from Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013 through Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013. Its purpose is to train businesses and organizations in best sustainable and socially responsible practices in supply chain management and general business management.

Said Wanda Lopuch, Ph.D., the Chair of the Global Sourcing Council: “Global Citizenship is moving from a side-line of a narrow csr-silo approach, to a main-line of strategy and cross-functional operations in global enterprises. The Global Sourcing Council is delighted to team up with Chrysler Group for its thought-leadership and targeted effort to support initiatives which bring society and environment in the successful global business equation.”

The 3S Awards Boot Camp’s goal is to equip the most ambitious and most forward-looking teams in hands-on skills and networking opportunities, which will enable them to take the winning programs to the next level and scale-up their impact in enterprises and local communities. The GSC is very grateful for Chrysler partnership in this effort to build a global 3S community.

“We are pleased to be working with the Global Sourcing Council to offer this important training to the winners of the 3S Awards,” said Todd Yaney, Manager of Supply Chain Sustainability – Chrysler Group. “It is essential to not only recognize efforts and achievements in corporate responsibility among these organizations, but also to help them progress to the next step by teaching valuable skills to increase their impact in the communities where they do business.”

The winners of the GSC 3S Awards program are organizations and businesses of all sizes that go out of their way to assure that their supply chains are sustainable and their business practices are socially responsible. The GSC 3S Awards 2013 is an awards program that highlights socially conscious sourcing professionals and advocates who can see the difference between doing business and creating business– sustainable business supporting local economies and empowering local communities in various ways. GSC 3S Awards bring to the forefront individuals, start-ups, and companies (e.g. suppliers, buyers and advisory organizations) that have worked to innovate, implement and improve communities through Sustainable and Socially Responsible Sourcing practices. The program features five categories:
➢ Community Engagement Award
➢ Employee Engagement Award
➢ Empowered Woman Award
➢ Out-of-the-Box Award
➢ People’s Choice Award (based on online voting)

3S Nominees for 2013 3S Awards

First Peek at the 3S Nominees 2013!

From five continents, companies and organizations of all sizes are applying for participation in the 3S Awards 2013 program – So far nine were officially nominated and will face off in this year’s challenge to be named the best example of Sustainable & Socially Responsible Sourcing. Steal the first peak at our first nominees this year.

Remember to save the date for the awards gala, during which this year’s winners will be announced:

Oct. 28, 2013

5–9:30pm EDT

New York, N.Y.


Community Engagement Category:

BudgIT –

BudgIT as an idea was both conceptualized and hacked at the Tech-In-Governance, a 48 hour gathering organized by Co-Creation Hub in February 2011. BudgIT as a tool aims to redefine participatory governance.  Many Nigerians, with little or no knowledge of accounting and public financial management, are lost when they see – if they ever get the chance to – the budgets of the different arms of government. BudgIT’s innovation is to show this governmental data creatively by either presenting them in simple tweets, interactive format or Info-graphic displays. We believe that in a democracy, every citizen has the right to know how his or her taxes are expended in the delivery of public infrastructure and services. BudgIT offers mobile and online solution to trigger discussions around the budget and take the budget beyond a news item to a focal point of debate among Nigerians.








X-Runner –

One billion people worldwide live in slums, most without access to sewage systems or improved sanitation. x-runner’s mission is to bring reliable and responsible sanitation to urban households that do not have a toilet. We improve their daily lives and create a cleaner, healthier environment for the entire family.

Read the brochure:






Puo and Tillys Dream –

Tumo Mothudi’s farm is located 15km from the capital city of Gaborone, Botswana  It is a greenhouse project that produces fresh tomatoes. The farm sells the produce to supermarkets and restaurants.

Tumo is currently trying to incorporate the business and change it to a 501 c 3 non profit organization and start workshops aimed at empowering the youth of the country along with empowering the entrepreneurial spirit in the younger generation of the country. The workshops will be focused around sustainable farming, accountability, healthy living, entrepreneurship and empowerment. This will enable schools to come to the farm to learn about the history and the importance of farming within Botswana and equally allow them to engage with the day to day activities and running of the farm. Agro tourism will also be introduced within the structure. Tumo also wants to introduce leadership programs which will be added to the schools curriculum. 








Boond –

The Boond mission is to solve some of the biggest global challenges – adequate lighting, access to clean drinking water and pest control affecting the remote areas of the world – through its innovative environment friendly products and sustainable business oriented approach.

The Boond team is highly motivated and well trained by SELCO and IIM-Ahmedabad Center for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship and comprises mostly of local resources.






Avasant – Empowering global communities via Impact Sourcing

Avasant is a global management consulting firm providing services in the areas of Sourcing Advisory, ICT Optimization, and Globalization Advisory. The company provides services in the areas of Strategic Sourcing, Technology Optimization, and Globalization Consulting. One of the company’s goals is empowering the citizens of developing nations by facilitating business development and local job creation.



Employee Engagement Category:


Vindhya e-Infomedia  –  A BPO by Differently Abled

Our Video shows how an organization which employs only person with disabilities looks and functions as normal as any other organization which is into similar business. So it helps in removing the bias that most people have about the abilities that a Person with disability. 


 McGraw Hill – Corporate social responsibility in practice

Over the past several years, McGraw-Hill Companies has tackled the challenge of retaining low costs while introducing sustainable and socially responsible practices in its global supply chain. The company achieved its goals through innovation and developing its strategy for sustainability and ethical practices with patience, research and multiple consultations. One example of the company’s sustainable innovation is the launch of Staples New Online Catalog of Eco-conscious Products, a new corporate strategy to drive sustainability innovation in product manufacturing, packaging and distribution in 2010.



Empowered Woman Category:


Glocal Connection – Teaching Guatemalan women how to be entrepreneurial

Global Connection is a business platform positioning luxury products made with traditional art forms by companies owned by people from local communities. The company designs innovative supply chain solutions for each business unit, which enables them to offer competitive prices without sacrificing sustainability.


 Source FK

SourceFK, an innovative business with a social mission, aims to end systemic poverty by partnering with Asian women artisans and connecting them to global markets and training. Debuting in January 2012 as a line of exclusive, global-chic, and completely hand-crafted women’s clothing, sourceFK epitomizes true South Asian artisanship combined with timeless style. Our collection is for the discerning customer who recognizes quality and is inspired by the soul behind the work.

Built on the core value of “sourcing for good”, sourceFK collaborates with artisans in Bangladesh to create economic opportunities, improve livelihoods and revive hand-woven craft traditions that are at risk of dying out. Hand weaving is the oldest continuous art form in Bangladesh and for thousands of artisans across the country, this represents their only means of livelihood. The rapid spread of technology and industrialization, however, threatens to make the hand weaving industry obsolete. By linking skilled artisans with new markets, sourceFK helps sustain the traditions of these remarkable craftspeople and generates lasting employment for their communities.



In Defense of Non-Engagement

“Young employees do not care about business these days,” said a panelist at a business luncheon I recently attended. “They only care about their free time, their vacation, and their friends. They are not engaged in business. They are only engaged with online chit-chat.”

I knew I needed to respond, but I needed to get my facts straight first.   I disengaged for a while from the discussion and texted my friend, “Wow, I need data.”

According to the 2009 -2010 Gallup’ State of Global Workplace Study (2010) conducted among 47,000 employees in 120 countries, almost three quarters of global workers are not engaged and 11% of them are actively disengaged.  Gallup determines engagement by series of questions aimed at understanding how employees relate to their workplaces.  Even though there are regional differences, the results reveal the pattern of engagement, or perhaps lack of engagement, employees well being and outcomes of economic activities that holds across geographies.  Why should we care about those who do not show passion for business? Because in the limited pool of global talent, engagement predicts productivity, growth, development, creativity; engaged employees predict success for the business.

Does that panelist have a point about disengagement?

Let’s dig a bit deeper. When it comes to decoding demographics, the subsequent 2011 Gallop survey data offer some insight.

As perhaps expected:

  • Less education is correlated with less engagement
  • Females tend to be more engaged then males (33%/27%)

What is less expected when it comes to engagement is:

  • Analyses by income show no straightforward correlation: both low-earners,  among them young, starting employees,  and high earners are more engaged than their middle-earners counterparts;
  • Analyses by age reveal another non-linear relationship. The most engaged employees are those over 65 years old at 44% followed by the youngest employees, 18-29 years old at 32%. The youngest employees are actually more engaged then their mid-career colleagues.

In response to the panelist, I submit that there is far more than simply the age of employees that determines engagement in business. Younger employees can be and are more passionate in business then their more experienced colleagues. They may express their views in less traditional ways, but they can be far more avid supporters of what matters to them.

A lot matters to these young workers, but perhaps not in a traditional worldview.  Companies as Toyota or Starbucks have figured out what excites young employees, what releases passion and commitment.  And such companies thrive on this energy. These companies grow faster than their counterparts, actually four times faster as well documented by Earning-per-Share analysis of Gallop Global Workplace study.

Among values that matter to employees all around the world are respect, significance of work and dignity. Although results of the Gallop Global Workplace differ somewhat geographically, the trends are the same for developing and developed counties.  The quality of the workplace is often more important than company policies.  A quest for dignity, respect and hope universally define engaged employees.

And yes, young employees care about the big 3S values: about Sustainability, Social Responsibility, Ethical Sourcing.  Business acknowledges that by offering young consumers more 3S-frandly brands such as sustainable fair-trade coffee to electronic gadgets manufactured according to fair-labor practices to environmentally friendly cars.  Academia acknowledges the 3S values: t oday just about every business school has a sustainability program.

Triple bottom line is not any more a synonym of “cooking the books”.  Sustainability classes are being introduced into curricula of engineering, fashion design, construction, liberal arts and just about any field of academic or vocational studies.  Employers, looking for talent and energy, create for young employees working environment that underscores meaning of work, positive impact on person’s well being, on environment and community.

But – watch out, young, sometimes naïve employees, value not the business slogans in the company policy statements, but the actual work experience that reflects these values:  meaningful tasks, authentic concern for the environment, and honesty in dealing with people.   They evaluate daily the real impact of their job on their personal development and on contributions to their communities. As much as pay matters for young employees, their decisions are driven by factors beyond weekly paychecks.  And yes, they disengage at an empty policy statements level.

If we can learn to look past the myth of disengaged young employees, we’ll see the extent of their passions. We’ll be surprised by the strength of the messages in their texts and tweets. Perhaps this generation only appears to be disengaged from the system because the system wants to confine them into rigid structures and behaviors that they do not accept.

There is a wealth of talent and creativity that is waiting to be released from today’s so-called disengaged young employees. There is an abundance of energy that waits to be properly channeled. As this young cadre is assuming management posts in global corporations, they are forcing these corporations to reflect upon how their corporations can make the world a better place.  This slogan has a real meaning for young employees, more so then to those, more experienced, those who have been changed by the system.

We do not want these young people to be changed by the system.  We want them to change the system. Young professionals are just doing that, and we should celebrate their progress.