Graduate Blog / Career Development

SEDEX: Going Beyond Compliance Saves the Planet

Sedex Conference

Sedex is a non-profit organization that aims to make it simpler to do business that’s good for everyone. It is the world’s largest collaborative platform for sharing responsible sourcing data on supply chains, and offers tools to help its members manage their performance around labour rights, health and safety, the environment, and business ethics. Every year, Sedex brings together its members in an annual conference to share ideas and advance the Sedex mission.

This year, I was fortunate to have been sponsored by the Affinity Scholarship, and was able to attend the Sedex Conference 2018. The conference’s theme was Beyond Compliance, and the discussions were exactly that. Each session was centered around how the supply chain function in organizations needed to evolve to becoming more than just efficient and compliant, but to be strategic and value creating for all stakeholders. Sedex aims to position the supply chain function as a strategic function, responsible not just to deliver what their organizations need to operate efficiently, but who also have the responsibility for building resilient supply chains that create value for all stakeholders.

From the first session on the first day, Sedex’s CEO, Jonathan Ivelaw-Chapman set the tone as one of urgent change. In just 12 months since the last conference, the world has become more divisive and more dangerous. The sobering statistics he quoted made it clear that there is no time to waste. 7.5 million more people have been displaced, 4,000 more people trafficked, more borders closed. Action must be taken because it isn’t about politics or ideology – “it is about human beings”. From that moment, I knew that I had chosen to attend the right conference.

Over the next two days, I was exposed to a new way of thinking about supply chains. I learned that the new era of supply chain functions were ones that:

  • Looked beyond audits and compliance to collaborating with suppliers to drive long-term positive change
  • Empowered and enabled its employees to build stronger communities by going beyond wages to provide training in non-work skills to help the workers improve their quality of life with their families
  • Making it the responsibility of everyone to identify trafficked or exploited workers
  • Tried to find ways to build healthier environments

The key themes and takeaways from the Conference were that in order to create social and environmental value:

  • A revolution in supply chain thinking is necessary to empower supply chains with the tools needed
  • Collaboration is ever more necessary – between management and workers, between suppliers and customers, and between companies and societies
  • Moving beyond the minimum audit and compliance, and focusing on building value is necessary
  • The recognition that it is everyone’s responsibility to create the world that we want to see, and empowering the organization accordingly

All in all, the Conference was enlightening and invigorating. In an increasingly divisive and dangerous world, it was inspiring to know that professionals from hundreds of multinational conglomerates were discussing real strategic frameworks and actionable steps to help build a better world and to write a new set of best practices – one that goes beyond compliance and saves the world.

This post was written by Haslina Ali MBA‘18.