Supply Chain: From Awareness to Action
By: Steve Bernard, Senior Contract Manager
Our supply chain is a large ecosystem of companies in manufacturing, distribution and services industries – everything from cell phones to network equipment and installation to office supplies. With tens of billions of dollars spent annually with tens of thousands of direct suppliers, actions we take with our supply chain can have a wide impact.
When it comes to sustainability, we view our supply chain as an opportunity to extend AT&T's own aspirations and activities and to magnify our positive impact through both influence and collaboration.
So far, this is how our engagement with suppliers has progressed:
|2008||Informed suppliers of AT&T's own objectives through a high-level set of citizenship and sustainability Principles of Conduct for Suppliers.|
|2009||Developed a Supplier Sustainability Survey to assess suppliers’ level of maturity in sustainability programs.|
Over the years, we’ve progressed from promoting awareness, to promoting accountability, to promoting action. This very much aligns with our own internal journey of first understanding our information and data, then disclosing it and then setting goals to promote progress.
In 2011, we set a goal for our suppliers that by the end of 2015, the majority of our spend with strategic suppliers will be with those who track greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and have specific GHG goals. This was a step forward from our 2010 goal that the majority of our spend be with those suppliers reporting GHG emissions. We are on track towards the 2015 goal with an increasing portion of our annual spend being with suppliers who track GHG emissions and have specific GHG goals.
Our Supplier Sustainability Awards program acknowledges that, although we have an important role to play, we cannot do it without dedicated sustainability allies in our supply chain. They help us turn our goals into reality. Our supply chain encompasses many other firms and can spark ripple effects for sustainability both upstream and downstream. So far we have awarded seven suppliers for their contributions to improvements in alternative energy, energy efficiency, environment, greenhouse gas emissions, packaging, and water use, areas of critical importance to both our business operations and the environment. The companies are: Sun Edison (2011), Cisco Systems (2012), Summit Energy (now Schneider Electric, 2011), Quest Resource Management Group (2012), Battery Solutions (2011), Schneider Electric – Professional Services (2012), TESSCO (2011), Water & Energy Systems Technology, Inc. (2012).
Looking forward, our focus is on training our contract managers in sustainability so that they can work directly with their suppliers to help improve our collective impact. We’ll continue to incorporate sustainability clauses into our contracts and strive to support industry-wide solutions to simplify and standardize reporting. With our efforts, we expect to improve our own operations and provide a positive influence on those with whom we work.