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From Our CEO

Broadening the Potential of Holiday Shopping

By ASCM CEO Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE

Although Black Friday and Cyber Monday are technically different events, with the continuing escalation of e-commerce, they are quickly fusing into one giant retail bonanza. This pre-holiday shopping spree is a time for consumers to enjoy deep discounts and BOGO offers; extended business hours; and, for some, a ritual that’s as much about gift-getting as gift-giving.

For retailers, today is of course about the bottom line. However, I am inspired to see that some businesses are giving back, as well. These companies are combining Black Friday’s retail mayhem with Giving Tuesday’s philosophy of charity and compassion. Therefore, by simply buying the presents already on their holiday lists, consumers are helping some very worthwhile causes.

Cosmetics and skin care company Lush has its Charity Pot “philanthropic skin softener,” a lotion with ingredients that are sourced through sustainable projects and support regenerative agriculture. The company also donates 100% of the purchase price (minus tax) to grassroots organizations working in the areas of human rights, animal protection and environmental justice.

Likewise, when you purchase your holiday dining table centerpiece from Arena Flowers, the organization plants a tree in countries experiencing deforestation, such as Haiti, Mozambique and Madagascar. The business also has moved to organic and compostable materials and is removing single-use plastics from its products and global supply chain. “Simple initiatives can make a material difference,” Arena’s website states. “[It] costs a little more, but it’s a price worth paying.”

For the past five years, retail and outdoor recreation company REI has taken this ideal a step further, actually “defying Black Friday.” Through its #OptOutisde campaign, stores are closed today so that its 12,000 employees can experience a paid day off to explore, get some fresh air, spend time with the people they love, or just enjoy some peace and quiet. REI hopes its customers will follow suit.

“It was a big risk,” Chief Customer Officer Ben Steel admits. “People thought we were crazy, and retailers were saying, ‘Why the hell would you give up one of the busiest shopping days of the year?’ To be really transparent, we didn’t know if it would work.”

But the initiative resonated with people, especially those who love spending time outside and worry that, due to climate change and related threats, their children will not have that same opportunity. “That’s absolutely an existential risk for our business,” Steel says. “But more than that, it’s an existential risk for our purpose and our passion.”

Remarkably, REI continues to see revenue increase from this effort. The company has even expanded the program to pledge $1 million to research how time outside affects people’s health.

Giving Tuesday

“Organizations need to do more than just sell stuff,” Steel told Business Insider. “More and more organizations are saying, ‘What does it mean to lead with our purpose? What does it mean to lead with our values?’”

The ASCM Enterprise Certification is helping corporations answer these tough questions and assess the ethical aspects of their supply chains. Certification criteria focus on climate strategy, anti-corruption, human rights, product life cycle stewardship and more. I encourage you to learn about the standards, which serve as both metrics and a diagnostic tool to provide key insights into supplier quality and where supply chain strategy can offer key advancements.

In addition, this Giving Tuesday, please consider giving back to your charity of choice or by donating to our Supply Chain STEM Academic Outreach Program, Student Scholars Program, Case Competition or Mentor Center — or volunteer with a local channel partner. You can help us inspire the industry professionals of today and tomorrow to create a better world through supply chain.

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