Bad news: Survey fatigue — already at significant levels — doesn’t seem to be improving. In fact, it could get much worse before it gets better. Good news: It could make our businesses more sustainable.

Anyone and everyone who examines his own sustainability performance, or footprint, quickly realizes that suppliers make up a big part of that footprint. This, in turn, leads the organization to realize that some sort of action on the supply chain is needed. This generally takes the shape of supplier codes of conduct, questionnaires, scorecards, surveys and/or supplier audit programs. Because everyone is in someone’s supply chain, we create a “circular loop” for ourselves. While complaining about survey fatigue, many companies turn around and subject suppliers to the very thing they complain about.

Tip of the transparent iceberg

It’s one thing for large-multinational corporations to do this, but when large public institutions start to explore sustainable procurement, we get a glimpse of the ripple effect. Federal, state and local governments, state universities and non-profit healthcare providers are assessing their own sustainability performance, which will lead them to assess their suppliers.

Whether you’re large, small, public or private, you are in someone’s supply chain and you inevitably will get that sustainability question. Are you ready to answer it?

Read more in our GreenBiz Shift Happens column here!