Sustainability & Tech

5 mins

3 Ways to Build Internal Buy-In for a Sustainable Supply Chain

Jenny Vander Zanden

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Jenny Vander Zanden
August 29, 2022

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Supply chain efficiency has always been a focus for shippers and transportation professionals. Now, the future demands they think about it differently.

Sustainability has become a major corporate focus in the last few years for organizations around the world. In particular, many shippers have started to examine how they can further transform the transportation sector of their supply chain to become more sustainable and cost-effective.

With transportation averaging about 10% of a shipper's total emissions, shippers are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint while still meeting consumer demand. It’s a complicated undertaking — with many moving parts.

Steps to securing internal buy-in

One of the most overlooked steps in establishing a sustainable supply chain is achieving internal buy-in across the organization. The value of goals and initiatives set by company leaders and decision-makers doesn’t always trickle down to the team members tasked with making the corporate vision a reality. Their buy-in is necessary to make a strong environmental impact in a short amount of time.

With that in mind, here are three ways shippers can motivate their teams to embrace carbon reduction strategies for transportation.

1. Build a clear roadmap

The first step to securing internal buy-in is developing a clear plan that articulates the scope of sustainability initiatives and individual responsibilities for turning this vision into a reality.

When building your plan, start by determining your baseline and setting actionable climate targets. Then connect with both internal and external sustainability stakeholders and identify how industry peers are taking action.

Sustainability is still a nascent focus area for many companies, specifically manufacturing. Most organizations that have sustainability processes are solely focused on their direct emissions while Scope 3 emissions continue to be overlooked. By connecting with shippers who have tackled sustainability initiatives, you can quickly uncover vital information about their challenges and successes  — and understand how they implemented specific processes and software in their supply chains. With this information, you can begin assembling your sustainability plan.

As you do so, take time to lay out how individual team members will contribute to larger sustainability initiatives. To obtain buy-in from team members, it’s critical they understand their contributions to the larger goal.

For example, if you decide to implement a new process to track carbon emissions, you must articulate the importance and utility of this process to the IT team. When they begin the process of integrating the process into the business, they’ll have a clear notion of how their work is impacting the greater goal.

2. Set goals and celebrate wins

A key component of motivating internal team members is setting specific goals throughout the initiative’s timeline. This not only gives your team tangible targets to work toward, but also allows leaders to contextualize the success of implemented recommendations.

Likewise, it’s important to celebrate the accomplishment of incremental goals. Create a process to visibly champion the hard work of your team and recognize them when your sustainability plan has reached certain milestones.

When creating sustainable transportation supply chains, frame these goals in ways that make sense to your team and help them understand how their work is impactful. For example, instead of saying you want to remove “X” amount of carbon emissions, create a goal of removing carbon emissions that are equivalent to taking 3,000 trucks off the road. By setting meaningful, tangible goals rather than purely metric-based KPIs, you can help employees understand the importance of their role and how their work is helping improve your business — and the world.

The good news is that the impact of implementing sustainable practices across your supply chain can inspire team members to take further action. Since transportation is such a significant contributor of emissions, implementing small changes en masse can have a large and quick impact.

3. Choose the right partner

Any shipper pursuing a more sustainable supply chain is entering new territory. Because there is a range of external factors and hurdles to consider, we devised a few key questions to ask a prospective strategic partner.

  • Is sustainability infrastructure available within my transportation network?

  • What is the suggested funding commitment and capabilities to implement sustainable processes?

  • Viewing my transportation network, what are the next set of 10, 20 or 30 lanes that could go intermodal?

A strategic partnership –– with an organization like Breakthrough –– makes it easier to accurately track your supply chain goals and achieve internal buy-in. You can’t reward team members for reaching certain milestones if you don't have a process for accurately capturing and tracking operational data. Leveraging a solution like CleanMile enables your organization to set up and track the goals necessary to encourage continuous team member buy-in.

CleanMile, our end-to-end transportation emissions management solution, enables shippers to track, analyze, and report carbon emissions. By providing targeted recommendations for scope 1 and 3 transportation emissions reduction, CleanMile sets organizations up for success in building sustainable supply chains.

CleanMile also provides your business with a customized roadmap showing how you can improve your specific transportation network and supply chain — empowering your company with the tools and expertise to make real progress toward climate targets.

Ready to take the first step toward creating a sustainable supply chain? Schedule a demo of CleanMile.