Brad Kuvin Brad Kuvin
Editorial Director

Sustainability and Social Responsibility

August 23, 2019


I recently attended an automotive-focused manufacturing conference where the subject of sustainability arose. Bottom line: Companies large and small throughout the supply chain had better beware; you are being watched and evaluated.

First, consider what sustainability in manufacturing means:

“Making lives better…[by] being positive contributors to our communities and good corporate citizens.”

A speaker at the conference, from global automotive supplier Martinrea, when explaining the company’s emphasis on sustainability, emphasized the importance of its suppliers sharing its own concern for being good corporate citizens.

The Martinrea sustainability pledge (probably not unlike that of many large manufacturers) promises a commitment “to ensuring the responsible use of natural resources and the prevention and reduction of negative environmental impacts like emissions, energy and water consumption, or waste generation, and not to endanger the environment.”

Then, regarding its suppliers:

“Martinrea’s contracts require that suppliers comply with certain legal requirements, including the company’s Code of Conduct, compliance with laws, environmental responsibility and customer requirements… failure to comply with these requirements could result in termination of the contractual relationship.”

If that’s not enough to get you thinking, and acting, consider how embarking on a sustainability mission will help recruit employees. One recent survey finds that when choosing a company to work for, more than 70 percent of people are more likely to work for a company that has a strong green footprint; nearly half would accept a smaller salary to work for an environmentally and socially responsible company; and more than 10 percent would accept a salary decrease of between $5000 and $10,000.

How to get started? Forbes contributing writer Serenity Gibbons recently suggested these three to-dos:

1. Incorporate sustainability into your everyday operations—investing in environmental stewardship initiatives such as using green energy. Example: a plan by Boeing to use waste heat from a new Seattle sewer trunk line to heat the company’s assembly facilities.

2. Make simple changes in the office and shop, such as encouraging employees to recycle or changing out light bulbs to LEDs.

3. Incentivize and encourage sustainable lifestyles outside of the company. Example: Bank of America pays $500 of an employee’s solar panel installation.

Finally, in another Forbes article we learn that in 2018, 115 of the world’s largest organizations requested environmental information from more than 5500 suppliers. If your company is not already doing so, start tracking and documenting efforts to reduce energy use, emissions, water contamination and other key measurables. Your position in the supply chain and among the workforce of the future depends on it.

Technologies: Bending

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