"Reading between the supply chain lines" offers a look at the news through the lens of a supply chain professional. There is often more to a headline than meets the eye. The commentary below illustrates the impact of major news headlines on procurement professionals and supply chain leaders.
A labor leader's legacy lives on
John J. Sweeney’s obituary in The New York Times was a surprising one. We tend to think of labor leaders as grizzled, cigar-smoking Neanderthals. The former head of the AFL-CIO hardly fit that stereotype.
Sweeney strongly embraced social causes, including support for immigrants, women, minority groups and low-wage workers, recognizing their importance to the health of organized labor. Sweeney showed organized labor and social responsibility can coexist.
His support for labor is part of his legacy and will live on as evidenced by the early of the Biden administration. President Joe Biden’s nod to organizing and worker safety, through a reinvigorated OSHA and a $15 per hour minimum wage, might affect domestic supplier costs. Or it will, at least, provide cover for suppliers to raise prices.
But support for the American worker, and its positive impact on the domestic economy, should be part of every company’s ethical and social supply chain strategy. As we transition out of the pandemic, most of us have adjusted our supply chain to include more domestic suppliers. Some related increases in costs should be considered as part of the greater good as our economy ramps up.
Burnout, balance and expectations
I’ve met many dogs, cats and iguanas during the last year of video meetings, and also an increasing range of unique casual clothing. As this article from Harvard Business School confirms, we are working longer hours and attending more meetings during this work-from-home period. But I bet you already knew that.
A friend of mine is a contracts manager for a high-tech manufacturer. He bragged to me recently that he has turned his dining room into the bridge of the Starship Enterprise with five monitors and several computers. He was proud that he worked until 2:30 a.m. of the day we spoke and regularly worked 15-18 hours daily.
His boss is unaware of the hours he is working, but he wanted his dedication to lead the way for a big salary increase later this year. I think he may be disappointed.
It’s easy to get consumed with work when your office is in your home. But our health and relationships depend on balance. That he is afraid to tell his manager about his schedule is a personal red flag.
Political risk abroad and in our backyard
With political turmoil in Russia, and pictures of the National Guard still stationed in Washington, D.C., you may have missed the news about the military coup in Myanmar. The military took control of the country and detained senior politicians, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi.
The risk of dealing with emerging market economies can cause unexpected interruptions in the supply chain. We imported $821 million worth of goods from Myanmar in 2019, with leather products, apparel and footwear the top categories.
This country has a history of political disruption, with the military at one point changing the country's name from Burma to Myanmar.
Which countries are next? And perhaps look in our own backyard for political upheaval, as well. While political science usually isn’t on the job description of procurement professionals, being aware of world events certainly should be.