'No softening on supply chain sustainability', says Hinish

EY's Sheri Hinish tells Procurement & Supply Chain LIVE New York that regulatory pressure & tax incentives are safeguarding progress on sustainability

Yesterday (June 28) saw a sparkling line-up of innovators, thought leaders and strategists share insight and advice across the fields of procurement and supply chain. 

Procurement & Supply Chain LIVE New York Virtual went out to a global audience, who enjoyed top-line speakers from firms including EY, PepsiCo, AWS, Mastercard & SnowFlake.

Important topics and themes under discussion included: AI and intelligent procurement; ESG and resilient supply chains; digital transformation; Scope 3 and fossil fuels; the ‘talent gap’; the cost of energy procurement; and omnichannel sourcing

One highlight on Stage 2 was a fireside chat with none other than the Supply Chain Queen herself, Sheri Hinish – Principal, Global Sustainability Innovation & Ecosystem Leader at EY.

Sheri Hinish outlines importance of ESG

Hinish explored the importance of creating sustainable supply chains, and the social, environmental and economic benefits this brings. 

She served up insight into how companies can collaborate with suppliers, stakeholders and the broader community to ensure responsible, ethical and sustainable supply chains. 

Asked if she felt signs of inflation-fuelled softening of attitudes to sustainability among consumers was being reflected in the world of business, Hinish said: “No, what I see is more investment, and specifically in technology, which is a great enabler and accelerator. I don't see investment in sustainable products softening. What I do see is people balancing their portfolios in order to finance investment in sustainable products.”

Hinish also said that the costs associated with driving sustainability in products and services is also becoming “normalised” because of ever-present regulatory pressures.

“Plus you also have pressure from investors, and ultimately making sustainability information more transparent is going to lower your cost of capital,” she said.

'Unfair' to heap Scope 3 pressure on suppliers

Hinish also said that, when it comes to supplier relationships, access to capital is “huge”, and said she felt it was unfair for larger businesses to put sustainability pressure on smaller and diverse suppliers.

“That is sort of throwing the responsibility for Scope 3 emissions over the fence,” she said.

She added: “The good news is there are plenty of incentives for businesses to become more sustainable. There are evolving sustainability tax policies to incentivise and finance the right behaviours. There are green tax trackers that can help organisations not only monitor these evolving tax policies but can also help them finance projects that have a longer ROI but that help meet commitments around zero carbon neutrality.

“So staying on top of supply chain tax policy is something businesses can use to bridge any gaps in financing that they are experiencing.”

Hinish went on to discuss the importance of President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, which makes available $369 billion of subsidies for electric vehicles and other clean technologies to lower consumer costs and drive the clean-energy economy forward.

“This will drive billions of dollars of investment into renewable energy and sustainable technologies,” says Hinish. “Those are the things that are going to open up new areas, and they underpin a lot of the sustainable goods and services that we're talking about right now.”


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