An Introduction to Sustainable Supply Chains And Logistics

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There were different definitions for the terms like the sustainable or the supply chain. But we chose the simplest and the most appealing definition of the "sustainable supply chain" which was taken from the business guide to a sustainable supply chain which stated and described the sustainable supply chain as "such a management of the raw materials and the services from the suppliers to the manufacturers or the service provider to the customers and back with the improvement of the social and the environmental impacts explicitly considered". (Science Direct) With the sustainability clause added to the concept of the supply chain, the interaction between the business with its suppliers and the customers get widened in its own way (Lizhen Huang) because now it is not just the upstream movement of the raw materials towards the business and the downward movement of the manufactured goods or the services from the business towards the end consumers but it also involves the required criteria of backing again the wastes and the used products or services in the process of the recirculation. (Lars-Eric Gadde) Here, the service provider or the manufacturer has the responsibility of ensuring that the management of the sustainability in the whole process rather than just to have the confidence in the consumers to be the "green consumers". The supply chain sustainability is the emerging business issue which would affect an organization's supply chain as well as its logistic network. (Supply Chain Management And Corporate Social Responsibility ) The sustainability in the supply chain is frequently quantified with the comparisons with the SECH ratings which are the ratings on the basis of the social, ethical, cultural and the health footprint basis. The consumers these days have become more and more aware of the environmental impacts of the goods or the services they are purchasing from a supply chain and its SECH ratings. The several of the nongovernmental organizations or the NGOs are currently setting the agenda for the transition from the conventionally manufactured goods to the goods which are more eco-friendly, organic and the locally produced goods to support the small and the medium sized businesses. (Corporate Social Responsibility) Many organizations are currently working upon to reduce the factors that highly affect the social issues and the natural environment in order to increase their SECH ratings. The organizations are also defining their individual sustainability measures like the indexes, etc in order to rate their products according to the social and the environmental impact they make while the products or the services are being manufactured or distributed.

The selected scenario for the analysis of the several of the aspects related to the sustainable supply chain in the various businesses taken is the corporate social responsibility in one of the textile company Zara Internationals. (About Zara) The Corporate Social Responsibility or the CSR is widely accepted developmental concept focusing on the ways on how the companies can manage their several of the business processes so as to produce a positive overall impact on the societies as well as the environment. (Van) Through the application of such concepts we can represent the care for our social and the natural environment factors with a much profitable business perspective. The report on the "Corporate Social Responsibility in the Textile Industries" represents the philosophy of the "People, Planet and Profit". (Van) The prime motive of this report is to see the opportunities for the growth and the advantages in the competitions by measuring the environmental and the social trends. The analysis of the case of the Zara Internationals is also focused with the same objective of defining what an organization can achieve from the efficient and the effective implementation of the "Corporate Social Responsibility" in terms of its profits, image in the society and most importantly the long term stability and the success in the market. (Corporate Social Responsibility) The most notable benefit is that with the employees of the organization. In general terms, the employees can be increasingly motivated to work more devotedly for the company which cares for their welfare and also have a good image in the society. ( Such type of the motivation can be a highly essential factor for the growth of the companies. That is why the Corporate Social Responsibility is very essential to be integrated with the business. (Corporate Social Responsibility) The textile companies like the "Zara Internationals" which knows how to make strategies in this direction is bound to grow faster and also with the reduced risks.

Another issue for the company is its compulsion to focus on the conditions under the influence of which its goods and the services are being produced in the developing or the newly industrialized countries which is getting one of the major concerns of the current human rights discussions in the western countries. (David) With the improvements of the working standards in the producing countries, another case is with the environmental aspects which are related to the textile industries especially. A growing number of the multinational and the big companies are coming up with the more progress along with the healthy financial results with the more convincing levels for the implementation of the Corporate Social Responsibility which drives us to see the status of the CSR in the "Zara International" as the main focus and finding out what more can be done to fulfill the Corporate Social Responsibility in the firm. The company can achieve a lot by the proper care of its CSR promotion which would help it to prevent the new regulations and also achieve the high level of the customer satisfaction. If the textile business like that of the Zara Internationals lacks behind in the Corporate Social Responsibility processes, the company's management would be showing its reactive and the short term management which along with the pressures and the other concerns can lead to the violations of its social and the environmental performances. (Laureen) By the successful management of the Corporate Social Responsibility, the Zara International can also achieve to ensure on the term basis of licensing to the operations from the government, customers, as well as the social agencies like NGO's, local communities by which it would just not maintain its international reputation but also would be less vulnerable for the banns and the bankruptcy. (Morten) The less work pressure and the humanitarian treatment of the workers would help the organization to get the maximum productivity from the labors and the low level employees, the reliable delivery of the materials and the accessories would help to maintain the less risk of the greater losses, the processes like the training and the education of the employees would help to get low rates of the re-working. (Cruze) There is lot to achieve than visible on the surface from the features and the advantages of the Corporate Social Responsibility.


The current scenario of the Zara International shows the governing principles of the company's commitment to the Corporate Social Responsibility. The healthy and the good faith in the relationships with the stakeholders and the societies are kept at the high priority. The dialogues with these stakeholders and the social organizations are open and ongoing. The Zara International also maintains the transparency in the business of the company and especially in the development of its sustainable strategies. The company has also maintained an internal code of the conduct that gives the framework for the different types of the actions and also influences all sorts of the activities in the distribution, manufacturing and the sustainable strategies. The company also maintains the clear transparency for the flow of the information.

The company has also formulated internal code of the conduct related to the employees such as the company does not employ anyone who is below the legal age, no one should be discriminated against on the basis of their physical disability, race, age, religion, nationality or the sex. The physical, psychological, sexual or the verbal harassments or any kind of abuse is also prohibited in the company. The company also claims that the salaries to the employees are in accordance with the functions performed and also guarantees that their employees perform their work in the safe and the healthy workplaces. Moreover, the company also claims that it take care of the fact that the each and every of its partner fulfills the above mentioned content and the other standards framed by the company with respect to its employees and the customers. The suppliers of the company are also bound to comply with the contents of its code of conduct and also they would have to permit the monitoring by any authorized third party or the company itself. The Zara international also undertakes to collaborate with the local, national and the international communities to guarantee the adequate production and the management of its code of conduct. It is also stated in the rules and the regulations of the company that the external manufacturers, suppliers and the subcontractors should be committed to protect their natural environment and should at least comply towards the standards and the requirements of the local and the international rules and the laws. The company also believes that in the course of its business activities, it must implement sustainable development standards that involves and promotes the environmental protection and also to make sure that the resources are properly managed and are meeting the needs of the society. The environmental policy of the company consists of some of the adopted principles which are like commitment to take the environmental issue into the account while planning any of its activities and also of its business partners, encouraging the environmental awareness among its employees, suppliers and the general customers, commitment to compliance with the environmental laws that governs the land in which the company is carrying out its activities, to improve the efficient use of the resources, and few others.

Hence, we can clearly observe how much the company is committed towards its Corporate Social Responsibilities at least on the papers. But there is enough number of the instances which compel us to reconsider the social corporate activities of the company. These instances include a recent article of the BBC news which highlighted a random case of one of the supplier factory of the Zara. The lines published in the BBC radio says, "The deafening whirr of hundreds of sewing machines, the faces covered with masks, the fixed concentration, all reflect a modern Bangladeshi garment factory. It is hard work, long hours and by Western standards, low pay." (Improving working conditions in Bangladesh garment factory, 2010) The findings of the place can be simply described as the "worse" with the old factory, four floors, no evacuation stairs and the too many people. The chairman and the director of the Corporate Social Responsibility took the immediate action by visiting the factory and the realizing some of the connection of the company by being a part of the firm which supplied its chain and ordered the factory owner to uplift the conditions if he wants to remain associated with Zara. But nevertheless, the problems or the issues that came out were the "abuse" both physical as well as the verbal with the incidents of the beating on the small mistakes and the outstanding wages for the several months. (Zara forces Dhaka factory closure )

No matter what the owners realize or say in their clean up, but there are certain common issues related to every textile industry. Similarly the notable issue in the company of Zara International which is basically a textile industry, the problems are in the each and the every phase like at the fiber production level the issue may be the working conditions, wages in the different developing or the industrializing nations, and the residues of the pesticides and the chemicals being left behind posing threats to the workers, employees and the local environment. At the textile production the issues are again the working conditions, dusts, wastes and the noises while at the textile finishing the problems are the local conditions for the workers, and the residues of the pesticides and the chemicals being left over. On the general basis, no compliance of the labor laws, in some places the wages are far low, concerns like the union, working hours and the child labor are the major threats if they are occurring in some or the other place in such a huge supply chain. The traditional manufacturing also causes much of the health related risks like the chemicals affecting the skins, threats due to the old machineries, etc. Besides of all these concerns concerning the social issues like the excessive of the over time in the low income countries due to the various factors like the tight lead times, late sample approval, increased pressure on the factories to deliver its orders and also the late delivery of the raw materials and also the mismanagement, lack of knowledge of the production planning, poor communication between the factory management with the merchandisers, and the production team, etc. The wages are the other problems which forces the labors to live in the bad conditions. The causes may be the low skilled workers, quality management, and the low pay for the materials being produced to the collaborated factories by the supply chain. Another implication may be the bounded labor in which the individual is not working in return of the pay but he/she is working in response to a penalty or the debt. Some unavoidable discrimination on the basis of color, sex, race, etc always occurs and is very common and also much difficult to control. The instances of the discrimination may be observed in the countries of China and Morocco which have a large number of the factories producing the supplies for the chains of the Zara Internationals where the discrimination of the migrant workers is often made. The child labor is also very common in the countries like India, Bangladesh, etc. Again like in China the age checks are inadequate. The legal issues like the inadequate legal labor contracts and the health and the safety of the employees as well as the customers which are buying the stuffs from the company may also be a problem as the same working standards or the fabric may not suit all types of the skins across the world.


There are the several textile companies which are the competitors of the Zara International that were taken in the consideration having the similar issues and how they are working to solve those issues with the help of certain efficient and the effective strategies. Like for example the corporate social responsibility report 2002 of the H&M shows how it managed its environmental, health, and the safety aspects along with the responsibility it showed in the purchasing process, the Governance structure and the management systems, the engagements of the stakeholders, human resource management, etc. For the environmental aspects, the company of H&M followed the Environmental Impact Assessment, environment management, motivational strategies for the supplier related to the environmental issues, the involvement of the different performance measures, and the different environmental targets for the subsequent years. It also adopted the supply chain management under the code of the conduct which involved the supplier assessment strategy, compliance and the inspection procedures, non compliance and the rein enforcement, strategies formulated in case of the violations, training and the education of its employees and similarly the targets for all these. It also framed some of the important community involvement strategies, sponsored projects, cause related marketing, etc. In the product responsibility section, the customer's health and the safety, products and the services, etc were taken care of. The code of the conduct for the H&M's supply chain included its code on the child labor, safety, worker's right, factory conditions, housing conditions, environment and the monitoring and the enforcement. (H&M, 2002) Similarly the other competitors of the Zara like the GAP and the Benetton were also successful in doing well with their corporate social responsibilities. The GAP has nearly employed 100 full time employees team to work on the aspects involved with the improvements in the labor standards which is in accordance to its code of the Vendor Conduct. This number of employees works in the number of the factories of the company. The company is also the member of the Corporate Involvement Program of SAI and also the member of the ETI. The GAP has an extensive program in order to benefit and encourage the manufacturers to develop their own code of the conduct for the sake of the Corporate Social Responsibility. Other elements of the program for the Corporate Social Responsibility in the organization includes the training program and the telephone hotline for the workers, building up of the saving program for the workers, healthcare, the especial prevention programs for the workers on the diseases like HIV/AIDS, etc.


With the complete analysis of the issues existing in the company related to its corporate social responsibility and the several case studies on the problems which were being faced by the competing companies, we would like to suggest some of the solutions for handling these issues. These solutions were focused upon providing a better working conditions and the increased motivation of the employees, decreased overtime and the decreased reworking of the workers, increased wages without decreasing the profits, improved safety and the health with the considerations on the measures so as to have less accidents and the illness, image maintaining and the increased ability to attract and retain the quality of the employees along with the several of the environmental factors such as the reduction of the raw material usage and the energy inputs, the eliminated usage of the toxic materials, and the reduced quantity and the toxicity of the emissions and the wastes. All these efforts would also bring a number of the benefits to the company in the economic ways like the reduced treatment costs, reduced cost on the input materials and the productivity, better quality production, enhanced reputation of the company and the brand value, the increases productivity and the efficiency of the employees, an overall projected increase of the incomes, the enhancements in the sales and the loyalty of the customers and the attracting up of the of the quality investors and the business partners along with their retention on the long term basis.

Some of the suggested solutions for the Zara Internationals on its corporate social responsibility are described below:

As we noticed that the company has some defined set of the rules and regulations regarding the code of conduct in its supply chain but the company has to see that this code of conduct is getting implemented or not in all the components of its supply chain. For this all the components should be monitored on the regular basis and all the suppliers have to keep the headquarters informed about the activities related to the social decisions. The company should also reserve the rights to do surprise checks on these places and if the instances of the non-compliance is found the business relationship with such suppliers, manufacturers, etc should be terminated there and then.

The company can have its global education or the training program for its employees in the different nations so as to train and educate them on some basic standards so that the quality can be standardized and the skills can be inculcated in the low skilled workers to enhance their productivity.

The company should also see that the manufacturers, suppliers, or even its own units are using the latest and the eco-friendly technologies in their productions so as to least effect the environment as per the technological capabilities of the company.

The yearly audits on the various aspects on the global basis as per its corporate responsibility may also be done.

The company can also extend special services for its employees like some sort of the education facility for their children, healthcare facilities, or any other feasible help which is possible under the financial limits of the company.


The sustainability is not just the way of attracting the customer but is a concept with the wider scope and the benefits. The sustainability is essentially required for any business for its long term profitability and the stableness. The supply chains have to be integrated with the concepts and the different frameworks of the sustainability in order to have negative impacts on the environment along with the social implications. The nature should be deployed in such a manner so that it may not just be deployable in the present generations but also for the future generations coming up.