Visibility of the whole supply chain is critical to managing disruption and building resilience, says Sedex

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Following the news that some of the world’s leading retail and food chains, including McDonald’s and Nandos, are struggling to keep products on the shelves and items on menus due to the supply chain disruption. Jessica McGoverne, director of policy and corporate affairs at the sustainable supply chain organisation Sedex, said visibility of the whole supply chain is vital to managing disruption and building business resilience.

McGoverne said: “The ongoing effects of COVID-19 are impossible to avoid, and they have exposed the sheer vulnerability of supply chains – in terms of both disruption to supply and demand, as well as highlighting the criticality of protecting the workers within them.

“While many people working in business and supply chains will have already been well aware of these issues, the pandemic has elevated them to much greater, wider awareness such as to consumers and investors. 

“The best thing any business can do to build resilience and manage disruption in the future is build good visibility of their whole supply chain. This visibility is essential for so many reasons: for understanding supply chain risks, for making informed business decisions, for sourcing more responsibly, and for building good relationships with suppliers so that a business can work closely with them in times of disruption.  

“Responsible, ethical purchasing practices are another crucial consideration. Purchasing and procurement practices are the single biggest lever a business has to support sustained ethical working conditions at supplier sites. Practices including prompt payment terms with suppliers, and paying prices that allow suppliers to pay workers a living wage, can help suppliers and their workers to build resilience, enabling them to better weather periods of disruption.

“In the current environment disruption of the supply chain is inevitable, so having a good understanding of a supply chain and its workers will also help a business make decisions about how to respond, to protect workers and operations.”