In October 2018, Bridgestone Europe was awarded the Gold rating by globally-recognised corporate social responsibility (CSR) assessor, EcoVadis. Progressing from the Silver award, this was a monumental moment not only for Bridgestone Europe, but for the entire corporation and its standing as a sustainable business – especially if we look back at how things have changed in recent years.
Bridgestone’s Founder, Shōjirō Ishibashi, was one of the first businessmen to understand the importance of sustainable practices. His philosophy – to serve society with superior quality – remains the mission at the heart of our organisation to this day. So, in March 2017 we launched ‘Our Way to Serve’ – a renewed commitment to CSR. Building upon Ishibashi’s words, we based ‘Our Way to Serve’ on three questions:
‘Our Way to Serve’ influences Bridgestone activities in three priority areas: mobility, people and environment. Since its launch, we’ve not only seen the promotion from Silver to Gold, but Bridgestone Europe is now in the top five percent of companies rated by EcoVadis that manufacture rubber products, and the top two percent of those companies ranked in EcoVadis’s ‘Environment’ category.
But being a sustainable business goes far beyond our own projects and initiatives – it’s about acting responsibly in everything we do. As a leader in our sector, a huge part of that is working with sustainable suppliers to create a better supply chain. That’s why, in addition to the three priority areas, ‘Our Way to Serve’ introduced six new management fundamentals – one of which being sustainable procurement.
In 2018 we announced a new Global Sustainable Procurement Policy, which reflects our commitment to creating a supply chain with long-term environmental, social, and economic benefits for all. Once that policy was in place, our next step was to action it. So we made the decision to partner with EcoVadis again – but not as a supplier this time.
Since the Summer of 2018, we’ve worked with EcoVadis to assess our Tier 1 suppliers. This move has not only brought the Global Sustainable Procurement Policy to life but has also introduced the benefits of EcoVadis to the suppliers we work with. As well as scoring businesses, EcoVadis also guides them – revealing what you’re good at, where you need to improve, and how you can achieve that.
But there are some issues in the automotive industry that can’t be solved alone. Sustainably trading natural rubber, for example, must be worked towards in collaboration by the entire industry. That’s why the Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber (GPSNR) – to be launched this month by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) – is so important. Together with representatives from the natural rubber supply chain and non-governmental organisations, we are working to improve the sustainable sourcing and production of natural rubber.
Bridgestone has been on a long and transformative journey with its CSR initiatives in recent years – from compliance to proactivity, and now thought leader. At Sustain 2019 – Ecovadis’s annual conference on the sustainable supply chain – Bridgestone EMEA’s Vice-President for Supply Chain & Procurement, Henri-Xavier Benoist, will be discussing how to create the business case for sustainable procurement.
There remains a lot of work to be done at Bridgestone up and down the supply chain. But this moment is a definite highlight on our CSR journey. We are there, sitting alongside other organisations trying to make a difference.
As we look to the future, we’re excited to continue our work alongside EcoVadis, and continue raising action against the issues we’re all too aware of.
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