Publication Date
Authored by
Ashley Barrington, Laura Allegue Lara
Advisor(s): Alexis H. Bateman
Topic(s) Covered:
  • Sustainability

Supply chain sustainability has increased in importance for companies of all sizes, public and private, across a wide range of industries. While there has been increased excitement in tandem with proclamations of lofty goals around the topic of supply chain sustainability, it has proven challenging to operationalize sustainability when many companies focus on short-term financial goals or lack science-and context-based sustainability targets. The focus of this research is to understand current and future supply chain sustainability practices from the perspective of frontline professionals, across industries, geographies, cultures, and regulatory environments in 2019. This research gathered insights and data through a survey distributed to frontline supply chain professionals, executive interviews, and additional research sources. Results confirm increased corporate interest in supply chain sustainability. However, misalignment may exist between executives who set overarching corporate goals and strategies and frontline professionals who are tasked with the tactical implementation of these strategies. Companies struggle to implement sustainability initiatives under constrained resources with conflicting priorities. Results also indicate that companies may be overstating social and environmental goal commitments, as overall investment levels are lower than goal commitment levels.

To better understand these issues and how companies are adopting supply chain sustainability, this research project was commissioned by the MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics and the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals. To set the stage for future State of Supply Chain Sustainability reports, we will reveal the results of our research on supply chain sustainability in 2019 with an added focus on what the events of 2019-2020, such as the global COVID-19 pandemic that is still unfolding at this writing, could mean for supply chain sustainability in coming years.