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How Nike Makes Connections in Its Supply Chain to Fight Climate Change

A goal for any modern company is to figure out how to grow while also meeting the needs of the planet. This means financial questions must accompany bigger, more empathic questions, like, Will this process be better for people and healthier for the Earth?

To make that answer “yes,” Nike needs strong, trusted relationships within its supply chain, says Marine Graham, VP of Responsible Sourcing and Manufacturing. Graham is working to create and foster those essential connections. She now helps lead Nike’s Supplier Climate Action Program (SCAP) with leaders from 10 of Nike’s largest footwear and apparel suppliers. The group was created out of an honest reflection: Short-term, incremental targets with suppliers are unlikely to reduce emissions to a level that will help avoid the destructive impacts of climate change. SCAP works with some of Nike’s biggest suppliers to develop a long-term plan for de-carbonizing the supply chain and reimagining their business strategies from the inside out in the name of growth and sustainability.

Nike Supply Chain Climate Change Marine Graham 0

Below, Graham shares more about the long-term relationships Nike builds with its partners to help advance resiliency in their supply chains and promote more sustainable ways of working.

Connections That Start from Within

Our team used to be called “sustainable manufacturing and sourcing,” but recently we made the decision to change the name to “responsible sourcing.” The shift may seem small, but it was essential. It acknowledges that sustainable practices throughout our extended supply chain are the responsible thing to do for people and the planet. And using the right words to describe our work matters, to us and to our partners.

Connections That Promote Urgency

Climate change is already impacting some of our key suppliers. It’s not a theoretical, in-the-future disruption. It’s real and tangible now, requiring shared solutions. The upshot is that we’re able to look at these problems — floods, droughts, power shortages or outages — and work with our suppliers to create ways to increase resilience and business continuity. First, we discuss measurements with our partners that can help us understand our direct climate impact. These include measuring corporate-wide emissions and setting science-based reduction targets and publicly disclosing them. Then we bring our partners together in learning communities or forums to share their experiences of dealing with climate events and which solutions worked, from changing production methods to energy sourcing.

Connections That Trigger a Positive Ripple Effect

Nike’s scale empowers us to get after climate change in our own specific way. When I think of scale, I think about our workforce and extended supply chain, which is more than a million people across dozens of countries who work for our suppliers and make our product day in, day out. When you think about the scale of the manufacturing partners we work with, they are huge businesses in their own right. Many of them are big publicly traded companies, and we’re just part of their portfolio. But we want each of our suppliers to take a leadership role in sustainability. So when I think about the work we’re doing to shrink our carbon footprint, the cool part is that we’re actually changing the way our suppliers do business, not only for their Nike portfolio, but for their entire enterprise.

Connections That Challenge the Status Quo

We’re creating supplier relationships that will help us imagine a future that’s even bolder than our current plan. In that future vision, we aim to be carbon-neutral and circular. We believe that we can put an ambitious plan into motion together with our sourcing partners, and that they can be at the top of their industries for goals connected to sustainability. It’s less about getting there at a specific date in the future and more about the journey and how hard we push to get there.

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