4 key takeaways from 2016 CR360/UL European User Forum
1) Sustaining: a problem that won’t just go away
UL EHS Sustainability general manager, Mark Ward kicked off this year’s European User Forum 2016 by stating the case for enhanced data management in the face of today’s most pressing environmental and social challenges. Whether driven by a need to boost and protect corporate reputation, improve resource efficiency or comply with increasingly stringent and diverse regulation, our current sustainability challenges – from climate change and water scarcity, to human rights abuse and food waste – are not going to go away any time soon.
But this presents a huge opportunity, said Ward. “Every 15 seconds a worker dies from a work-related accident or disease. And by 2050, our annual global environmental damage will reach a cost of some $28 trillion.”
2) Supply chain risk management is key priority
There is a growing realisation that if companies are going to take their environmental and social impacts seriously, they must look outside their own operational boundaries, and further along their supply chains. The recent spate of supply chain disruptions caused by negligence and non-compliance points to a need for greater transparency and traceability.
The CR360 supply chain platform is helping companies to visualise their supplier network, and to collect data in a more efficient and transparent way. This is then being used to identify where the greatest ethical, environmental or social risks lie – and to prioritise resources and efforts to deal with any issues as they arise.
The conversations among delegates also pointed to a need to look beyond Tier 1 suppliers and to use the software to efficiently identify which factories, farms and facilities are supplying Tier 1 suppliers, and to unveil any risks that would initiate action.
According to Ward, the majority (71%) of companies point to regulation as the root cause of most supply chain complexity. That regulation is not likely to disappear, and with just 25% of a typical company’s end to end supply chain being assessed in any way for risk, there is a big opportunity for improvements across a range of sectors.
3) Data integration is increasingly important
cr360’s product director, Richard Kirby announced plans for yet more ways that the system will partner with other agencies and organisations that currently ask for non-financial data inputs. By integrating the cr360 platform with the likes of the Higg Index, BSCI and the Fair Labour Association, data can be efficiency and effectively pulled in to be used for reporting purposes – especially useful when having to ask the same questionnaire respondents to give duplicate data, for example.
Other new or planned integrations include partnerships with Urjanet (for utility data), BizEE (helping organisations save energy) and GRESB (focused on the energy and carbon performance of buildings).
4) Reporting and data collection as performance enhancer
With more than 400 different sustainability reporting platforms, mechanisms and methodologies being used across 64 countries, the demand for corporate disclosure on non-financial items has exploded in recent years. And it shows no signs of slowing down given that 52% of people are checking brands before buying products and services from them. Understanding how well a business is performing and behaving – towards people and the planet – has become a fundamental practice of stakeholders everyone.
But increasingly, companies are finding that creating reports purely to be used for disclosure and compliance purposes is something of a wasted opportunity.
A number of cr360 system users are making the most of their new found data and using it to identify risks, trends and patterns in their performance. Armed with this new information, companies are able to make better investment decisions, understand where money and resources could be saved, and develop longer-term plans that take into account environmental and social factors that are likely to impact their growth opportunities in the future.