EXCLUSIVE: Steve Madden ensures sustainability compliance

Archana Archana
Archana Archana, manager, social responsibility & sustainability, Steve Madden Ltd.

A leading footwear/accessories brand is revamping its social audit processes to ensure compliance with supplier sustainability standards.

Archana Archana, manager, social responsibility & sustainability, Steve Madden Ltd., recently spoke with Chain Store Age about how the company helps track its compliance with proprietary sustainability programs from various suppliers using social audit technology from SAP and its partner Inspectorio.

Social auditing is a formal review of a company’s environmental, social and ethical conduct. 

What sustainability compliance issues was Steve Madden facing?

As an enterprise, we function both in the retail and wholesale spaces, which increases the complexity of our supply chain and how we address the unit from a visibility and compliance aspect. 

Several of our customers have long-standing proprietary social audit programs. In maintaining compliance under those proprietary programs, we had arrived at scores of disjointed and siloed data sets across several audit schemes and varied program requirements. 

This unkempt data became an overtly manual and time-intensive compliance practice. To address our need to equalize our compliance data, we wanted a solution that would bring forth an ability to condense all our social compliance audit data formats in one place whilst enhancing the agility of all this work. 

This is where Inspectorio offered us a way forward with the ability to harness our social compliance data and bring about a more nuanced approach to our larger ambitions for growth and impact on our supply chain sustainability.

Why and how did you select SAP and Inspectorio technology?

In our in-depth study and analysis of our supply chain’s visibility and compliance needs, we found Inspectorio, an SAP.iO Foundry New York startup program participant. By offering us the ability to bring an equivalency mapping approach in-house, Inspectorio gave us the option to opt out of creating yet another standalone proprietary audit program.

In addition, it gave us the option to opt out of adding to the audit fatigue problem in our industry. With Inspectorio, we have been able to leverage existing social audits by accepting several leading schemes, thereby reducing the overall burden for our supplier partners. 

This also reduces the amount of time and resources we have to divert in managing a wholly independent program toward more time spent in critical conversations with our supplier partners that lead to improvements in our supply chain visibility and compliance processes.

What have the results and benefits of this rollout been?

The most obvious upgrade is the ability to intake existing vetted audit methodologies and reduce the burden on our supplier partners. Without launching a standalone audit requirement, we are now able to increase visibility and agility in how we manage compliance in our supply chain. 

We found a technology pivot that made sense for us and how we wanted to drive the future development of our social compliance program. While this is still a fairly new process, we are thrilled to see how this software is enhancing our visibility and making compliance management more efficiently data-driven by flattening those data silos that we had to navigate constantly. 

Are there any future sustainability plans you can discuss?

Looking forward, we are going to work on our continuous improvement goals as prescribed by our data-driven findings and leverage our partnerships to target key issues aligned with our supplier code of conduct. To this end, we will keep making improvements in our own processes as we grow our program to reflect our loftier long-term plans. 

We believe it’s crucial to reduce the number of social compliance audits conducted and invest more time in enacting improvements within the supply chain. Our program is centered on this principle, and we are looking to increase engagement with our customers to adopt widely accepted audit methodologies in lieu of standalone programs.

[Read more: Why, when and how consumers care about sustainability]

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