The GSC’s 3T Summit: Technology, Transparency, Trust

Opening Remarks by Wanda Lopuch, Ph.D., Chairman of the Board, Global Sourcing Council …..

Technology, Transparency, Trust:  the 3T Summit (), presented by the Global Sourcing Council (GSC) in collaboration with Thomson Reuters and Refinitiv, was part of the GSC’s thought-leadership series addressing major issues in today’s supply chains.

 

Business today, with its global and complex supply chains, operates at the intersection of two megatrends: Digital Transformation and Sustainability. Processes that take place as these two trends intersect in a transparent economy was the framework for this Summit, addressing the complexities of Technology, Transparency & Trust in modern supply chains.

 

Digital transformation.  Underlined by automation, data analytics and artificial intelligence, the achievements within digital transformation exponentially increases productivity gains. Technology that fuels digital transformation has been changing the way we work, how we spend our leisure time, how we sleep, how we look into the future. With the mind-set of better-faster-cheaper, technology introduces changes at the speed-of-light, touching every function of enterprise operations. But in our quest for efficiency, we have often ignored, or were surprised by, the negative or unforeseen consequences that come with these technological advances. Both creator and user are now examining the results of these innovations.  

 

Sustainability. The impacts of innovative technologies are now being challenged and scrutinized by consumers, employees and investors. The effects of better-faster-cheaper has fueled the movement of the “conscientious social objector” who is now holding companies accountable for their actions on multiple levels.

  • Consumers are voting with their pocketbooks for products with sustainable values. They like to drink fair-trade coffee, they pay a premium for organically grown vegetables, they prefer to wear responsibly grown cotton.
  • Brands with sustainable value claims are the fastest growing brands. In some sectors such as beverages, they are the only growing brands, and they’re introducing sustainable portfolios to satisfy consumers’ demands.
  • Employees, though still motivated by good paychecks and benefits, look for meaning in their work. To attract the best talent, the top-down messaging from CEOs must articulate what their corporate values are. HR Professionals are responsible for conveying that message to potential hires and showing how each employee contributes to that vision, fielding questions if or when that vision is diverted or altered.  
  • Investors, especially mid-term and long-term value investors, follow global trends using ESG matrixes as a proxy to estimate future growth opportunities and risk.

These stakeholders – Consumers, Employees and Investors – demand transparency to facilitate accountability of businesses and their supply chains.

Yet, bringing transparency into business, and especially supply chains, is everything but simple. Supply chains are global and complex.  Commitment to transparency requires clear vision, a disciplined approach, and initially, significant resources.

 

Transparency is at the heart of the conversation.  

 

We have posed two seemingly simple questions to world-recognized experts from business, academia and NGOs:  

Transparency – why?

Transparency – how?

 

Transparency, as demanded by the stakeholders, should bring Trust.

  • Trust in brands to increase brand value
  • Trust in enterprises so talent will gravitate towards them and investors will devote financial resources to them
  • Trust in leadership so stakeholders will continue their support and the enterprises will have a clear license to operate based on shared values

 

Introducing transparency in supply chains is a long-term commitment which requires vision and commitment. It can be initially expensive; there will almost always be an increase in cost to enable companies to monitor vendors’ behavior and compliance with new or existing policies.  

 

Technology can come to the rescue.  

With a clear goal of increasing transparency, digital transformations can, and must, go beyond productivity gains. Technology must serve humanity. When applied to supply chains, technology can, and should, be used towards protecting the safety and rights of employees, eliminating slave labor, implementing good environmental practices, and exposing unfair business practices and corporate corruption.

 

To redefine the role of Technology requires businesses to reconsider how they achieve the necessary goals of increased productivity and financial stability. To develop solutions to these challenges, they need to continue having conversations regarding how to:

  • collaborate in the competitive marketplace
  • protect privacy while complying with transparency requirements
  • optimize profit while adhering to the shared values of all levels of stakeholders

During the 3T Summit on November 7th in NYC, experts from international business, academia and NGOs discussed these challenges with an audience of approximately 70 delegates. In this issue of The Source, we share some of those perspectives and ideas that were part of that conversation.   

The GSC extends its gratitude to Thomson Reuters and Refinitiv for supporting this important dialogue.

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