Social sustainability is the aspect of sustainability which encompasses human rights, labor law and corporate governance. It is recognized by CEOs and COOs, as well as venture capitalists involved in the field, as one of the most important challenges faced by large corporations in the 21st century.
This challenge is further pronounced in the field of global sourcing, when we take into account the increasing social complexity associated with global projects. The reason for this growing complexity is the fact that there are numerous cultures involved in sourcing projects, which make having a “standardized metric” to measure social sustainability a difficult task. Establishing metrics for sustainable and socially responsible sourcing is a daunting task for most organizations. This is because what may be considered as socially acceptable in one part of the world may not be tolerable in another. For example, acceptable working conditions, working hours and fair pay, in certain Asian countries that receive sourcing projects, may not be considered as satisfactory in the Western countries.
Considering these challenges, how do we evaluate the social sustainability involvement of a company that is based in the U.S. but is involved in sourcing relationships in different parts of the world? As part of its efforts in this area, the Global Sourcing Council is continuing to develop the 3S scorecard, a tool for measuring socially sustainable sourcing.
The focus of the 3S Scorecard is to serve as a tool to evaluate and compare organizational involvement in social fields such as employment practices, legal practices, and ethical standards, as well as cultural and community impacts across international boundaries. The expected result includes providing the people in the countries involved in sourcing a good standard of living, which is sustainable, as well as attracting socially responsible investors, who want to maximize both financial returns and social good. This results in a cyclical benefit which would be sustainable over a longer time frame and thus help organizations reach their goal of socially sustainable sourcing.