Hitting targets while missing the point
In this blog post, Academy co-Founder and Board Member, Hal Hamilton discusses sustainable sourcing and whether there is a danger that we’re losing sight of larger sustainable goals. Hal founded and co-directs the global Sustainable Food Lab, where this blog post can be read in full.
A senior sustainability leader commented the other day that sustainable sourcing programs might be in danger of hitting their targets while missing the point. As sustainability is operationalized, we might be in the weeds of compliance and lose sight of larger goals.
Sustainable sourcing generally requires asking suppliers to complete self-assessment questionnaires that can be spot checked and thereby verified. Unilever has its own code, as does Pepsi, and SAI Platform has created the industry standard “Farmer Sustainability Assessment.” Some companies ask that farmers enter data into a calculator rather than completing a practice questionnaire, and calculator results can contribute to a baseline of current practices and impacts. A few companies combine a quantitative calculator with a practice-based checklist.
The industry has come a long way from the times when sustainability was marginal or a feel-good greenwashing exercise. Nevertheless, it’s useful to ask ourselves the question our colleague asked, “Are we hitting the targets but missing the point?”