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Sustainability: Supply Management's Action Role

ISM's 93rd Annual International Supply Management Conference

St. Louis, MO
May 2008


Cathy A. Rodgers, Vice President, Global Opportunities and Business Development, IBM Global Services

Dennis M. Gawlik C.P.M., CTL, Non-Clinical Sourcing, Seattle Children's Hospital & Regional Medical Center

Drew Schramm, Senior Vice President, Global Supply & Quality, Herman Miller, Inc.

"We can be a positive catalyst for change, or we can sit back and be casualties of it," said panel moderator Cathy Rodgers, vice president, global opportunities and business development of IBM Global Services at the start of this well-attended session on practical reasons to take a lead role in your organization's sustainability initiatives.

As everyone on the panel agreed, it's not an option anymore ... to be truly competitive in today's global market, organizations need to build sustainability competencies into their overall goals. In a slide titled, "The Road to Sustainability," the panelists demonstrated how the concept has matured beginning with Deming's creation of the Toyota Production System (also known as "The Toyota Way" in the 1940s, to the rise of lean and Six Sigma in the 1990s and today's emphasis on sustainable development to meet the world's current needs without compromising future generations.

The speakers discussed how sustainability impacts the seven core principles of social responsibility from ISM, and how crucial it is to be proactive in the creation of sustainable processes in one's organization. Issues regarding climate change, carbon footprint and carbon credits/ trading, population pressures (such as the "disposable society" we all seem to live in these days) and what techniques those in attendance used to encourage employee involvement were just some of the areas discussed. "Remember — we have a tremendous source of creativity in our own employees and our suppliers," noted Rodgers. This lively session left participants energized with new ideas to take back to the office for further discussion.

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