Efficient metrics management for stakeholders at every point in your value chain
By Cindy Mehallow
Just as baseball is a game of statistics, sustainability is a field of metrics. But, unlike the venerable stats by which fans track their favorite team's performance, the metrics used to measure an organization's non-financial performance present a churning assortment of evolving standards. At the recent Sustainable Brands “New Metrics of Sustainability” conference, speakers from SAP, Bridgestone Americas and other organizations threw participants a few life preservers to help them stay afloat in the sea of data.
This online collaboration community enables manufacturers and their supply chains to share the data that manufacturers increasingly need to comply with regulations such as REACH and RoHas.
“SAP’s Product Stewardship Network offers a huge advantage for suppliers,” declared Odenwald. The biggest benefit: the supplier only submits the data once. In addition, suppliers can use the network to self-assess and benchmark against peer companies and industry standards.
Similar supplier data exchanges exist, including the widely-used Supplier Ethical Data Exchange (SEDEX). A not-for-profit membership organization dedicated to driving improvements in responsible and ethical business practices in global supply chains, SEDEX boasts more than 30,800 members across 23 industry sectors in 150 countries. SEDEX provides additional services such as ethical audits of suppliers. For suppliers looking to efficiently manage the rising tide of customer requests and regulatory requirements, either tool offers a lifeline.
“This method enabled us to reach our goal, which was to obtain high quality, consistent responses to the survey questions,” explained Bent. Sensing that others could benefit from this tool, Bent has approached the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation (MAPI) to explore sharing the tool with MAPI members.
Perhaps most well-known for its widely used Greenhouse Gas Protocol, the WBCSD has developed many other tools, including methodologies to support its member companies. The nearly 30 resources in its Tool Box are targeted to companies in various sectors and at differing stages in their sustainability journey. These resources vary widely, ranging from a Guide to Corporate Ecosystem Valuation (CEV) to an e-learning tutorial on sustainability for employees.
In scanning through the toolbox, I stumbled on what appears to be a gem of a resource: “Measuring socio-economic impact: A guide for business.” This 40-page guide offers a comparison of 10 publicly available models that can serve as a starting point for a company searching for an existing methodology for measuring – and managing – its social and economic impact. I plan to recommend it to one of my new social responsibility reporting clients – a global law firm looking for ways to share the impact of its active pro bono programs.
Its Category Sustainability Profiles offer life cycle performance data by product-category level (e.g., laundry detergents, frozen beef, shoes). Its Product Sustainability Declarations provide product-level (e.g., JC’s Frozen Beef Patties) data which allows for direct comparison of products against the product category. For manufacturers looking to benchmark their products and conduct life cycle analysis, the user-friendly data sheets are a convenient source of industry data.
Share Your Story
These are just a few of current resources available to help companies navigate the sea change of quantifying non-financial performance.
Which, if any, of these tools do you use? Can you share some other sustainability metric management methods you use? By pooling our knowledge, we can advance the caliber and use of sustainability metrics.
Share your successes and struggles in the journey to measure what matters.
Cindy Mehallow is principal of CRM Communications, a woman-owned sustainability communications consulting practice specializing in corporate social responsibility reporting and stakeholder communications. GRI-Certified in sustainability reporting, Cindy has produced award-winning sustainability reports for Fortune 500 clients in a variety of industries.