Only with guts and mutual understanding will national sustainable supply chain legislation become a success

'If more CEOs stuck their necks out and dared to take the first steps, this could have a flywheel effect'. - Haico Spijkerboer, partner Operations.

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Risk of lost tenders
With implementation of the European proposal for sustainable supply chain legislation delayed, voices in The Hague are calling for national legislation as soon as possible. In itself understandable, given the slow progress of the European legislative machine, but we must be careful that this does not come at the expense of Dutch competitiveness. It is of no use to anyone if Dutch companies lose tenders from companies from countries where sustainability rules are somewhat less rigorous.

Don't talk, but act.

However, this does not mean that our business community should just sit back and wait until Brussels finally gets its act together. It is time for more companies to show courage by taking steps themselves. Not talking, but doing.
They can take an example from Unilever's Paul Polman, who said years ago: our strategy has five spearheads, one of which is global sustainability. He wanted to show that Unilever could be sustainable and competitive at the same time. If more CEOs stuck their necks out and dared to be the first to take steps, this could have a flywheel effect.

Choose your career consciously

An important role is reserved for the younger generation, who are in the starting blocks to start a career. In today's tight labour market, they have their pick of the litter, so they can step up the social pressure. Who still wants to work for a company with a wait-and-see policy on such an important issue as sustainability?

Taak a closer look at the business community
This does not mean that the government cannot play a role in this. However, the problem is that government bodies often lack knowledge of how the private sector works, especially in the complex international context. People sometimes seem to lose sight of the competitive position of BV Nederland. We gain nothing if companies are sidelined, losing contracts to foreign parties bound by less stringent rules.
Before designing laws and regulations, the government should take a closer look at the business community. There are undoubtedly former corporate executives in our country with a heart for business who can advise the government on this. We need these kinds of bridge-builders to get things moving. Because everyone agrees: standing still is not an option.