18 July 2012 | BlueBridge One

Reputation vulnerable to supply chain issues

Some of the largest brands have to manage their image and armies of PR people are employed to ensure good press relations and protect reputations. Supply chain issues are among the most important as they have the potential to make very damaging headlines; stories of worker exploitation, especially those involving child labour play very poorly in the developed world.

Mid-market cannot escape sustainability and ethics issues

Sustainable business and ethical practice is not only something for major brands to think about. Sustainability and ethics are important issues from which mid-market wholesale distribution businesses cannot escape. Clothing and fashion is one area where many brands have found themselves the subject of unwelcome ‘sweatshop’ stories, but tech companies Apple and Foxconn were in the spotlight earlier this year.

For many, such stories conjure up an image of ‘third world’ economies where workers are living on ‘less than a dollar a day’. However this is a stilted view; it is not just about low pay and poverty. Some relatively well developed economies with improving standards of pay and conditions face many sustainability and ethics issues.

Life-work balance and the quality of life of workers and dependents is becoming an issue, much the same as it is in western developed economies. In China, for example, it is believed that at least 50 million children are separated from parents by economic migration from rural districts to city factories. Timberland is one major brand that is working to address such issues on the ground in China.

BlueBridge One with NetSuite helps identify issues

Reputational damage doesn’t just affect big brands or a single company. Reputational damage is a contagion that may spread into the business ecosystem of related companies – customer as well as supply-side, big and small.

In a world where sustainability and ethics cannot be ignored, it is essential for mid-market wholesale distribution businesses to obtain an end-to-end view across the supply chain. NetSuite enables you to analyse your supply-side to see if costs are in keeping with sustainable and ethical business practices. BlueBridge One works to understand customer businesses so that NetSuite is fitted to your specific needs.

To see what NetSuite can do for your business, register with BlueBridge One for a free 14-day trial. There’s no software to install so there’s no conflict with existing systems.

Click here to go to The Guardian’s site to see more about how Timberland is promoting ethical standards in China and India.