Smith Market Blog

Global Supply Chain Agility and the Role of Corporate Sustainability Management


The global supply chains we create and inhabit are more customized, complex, and fragile than in years past. For those who have worked to become market leaders, their supply chains hold a key element of their success and global reach – they support agility and strategic differentiation.




Smith turns 30 years old this year. As a global Independent Distributor (ID) we have worked tirelessly to grow into our leadership position and provide a unique set of services, insights, market positions, and solutions all which support our clients' ability to successfully navigate the tumultuous events that threated the complex semiconductor and electronics supply chain. Global agility at Smith is part of our daily work, ensuring the most strategic positions for our customers while ensuring quality in all its facets.

So what does global agility and corporate sustainability have to do with each other? Strategic market successes and pivotal business positions have not been understood as going hand-in-hand with sustainability by the majority of businesses today. However, for those companies that make sustainability part of their corporate culture and practices "[…] addressing significant sustainability issues has become a core strategic imperative and a way to mitigate threats and identify new opportunities," as the recent report by a joint study from MIT Sloan Management Review and The Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

What the MIT-BCG ongoing, five-year study has revealed is that sustainability is now understood as central to global competitiveness. Sustainability management focuses the attention of corporations on issues that impact the local and global communities that corporations depend on: logistics, educated workforce, mitigated threats and supply chain disruptions (as discussed in IHS' report) It takes many forms, from the cost-efficiencies in reducing waste and using resources more wisely to recognizing new, innovative solutions that come from changing perspectives and being mindful of sustainability issues. From Smith's perspective, corporate environmental policies, that is, Corporate Sustainability Management (CSM), is a core component of Quality Management.

Steps toward sustainability are essential to success

Beyond the high-level talk of the strategic value of corporate sustainability are concrete, step-by-step cost-saving and productivity measure that aren’t difficult to implement. For some time Smith has been mindful of the role of sustainability as a leadership responsibility, not only to employees, but also to the communities where we are based, as well as what we can do to support a positive future for the next generations. We have seen costs savings through recycling and use of alternative energy sources. And, we’ve seen top-down and bottom-up cooperation within our organization open new venues for sharing ideas and improving processes and procedures, bettering the environment and improving operations that affect the workplace and the local communities.

Smith's step-wise corporate sustainability management plans are presented in some detail in the latest Smith MarketWatch Quarterly. This piece offers a case study of Smith's experience, from the small changes and steps to major projects that reach up to contribute to one of the world's megacities, Houston, Texas.

Lisa Ann Cairns, Ph.D.
Written on Wednesday, 29 January 2014 09:53 by Lisa Ann Cairns, Ph.D.

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