The Ethical Supply Chain: Why It’s Worth Showing Off About!

Ethical Supply Chain

There is a lot to consider when choosing suppliers. How reputable are they? And how much does their service cost? 

One trait that is becoming increasingly important is social responsibility. Is a supplier’s practices ethical? If so, it could be worth sharing this information with the world. The following post explains more about why an ethical supply chain can make a great marketing angle.

What is an ethical supply chain?

An ethical supply chain is a form of supply chain in which every supplier is socially responsible. This includes treating employees well, taking steps to protect the environment and using legal transparent methods. 

An example could include a coffee shop that sources its coffee beans from eco-friendly Fairtrade coffee farmers and then uses green shipping methods to import the beans over. 

For a supply chain to be wholly ethical, every supplier within the chain needs to meet certain ethical standards. If one supplier in the chain uses unethical practices, this is no longer an ethical supply chain. 

Why boast about an ethical supply chain

Some companies are more interested in saving money than being socially responsible – and this typically involves using cheap suppliers that aren’t eco-friendly or use unethical labor methods (or are otherwise dodgy). A growing number of consumers have become aware of this and are not willing to support companies that use unethical suppliers – even if the company itself is eco-friendly and good to their own staff. 

Some customers are very particular about where their products and services are sourced from, and will research companies beforehand. If you provide no information as to the ethics of your supply chain – such as not stating whether wood comes from sustainable forests or whether clothes are manufactured in fair factory conditions – you could lose certain customers who may assume your supply chain is unethical.

Making your ethical supply chain a prominent feature within your marketing can therefore help convert more customers. It is a major selling point that you cannot overlook.

Promoting your supply chain can also benefit your suppliers by providing them with free marketing. It could help to build a stronger relationship with your suppliers by shining a spotlight on the important people behind the scenes.

Finally, boasting about an ethical supply chain can also help attract candidates who want to work for an ethical company. It can also make your current customers feel more proud of the business they work for. All in all, it can benefit everyone. 

6 ways to promote your ethical supply chain

There are many ways in which you can promote your ethical supply chain. Below are 6 prime examples:

Certification badges

Certification badges are awarded to suppliers that are able to meet certain ethical standards. These badges can instantly tell someone if a product has been ethically sourced and are useful for printing on packaging or placing on your website.

A few examples of certification badges that could show your supply chain is ethical include:

  • Fairtrade: This is one of the most recognizable certificates and is used to signify that a supply chain pays and treats its workers fairly.
  • Rainforest Alliance: Another highly recognised certificate – Rainforest Alliance signifies that suppliers meet certain environmental standards, as well as meeting certain human rights standards, 
  • PEFC /FSC: PEFC and FSC are two certificates used to signify that timber has been harvested sustainably.
  • ResponsibleSteel: This certificate is used to signify that steel has been manufactured to meet certain environmental standards. 
  • OEKO-TEX: When buying a leather product, an OEKO-TEX certificate can tell you that the leather has been sourced ethically.
  • Cruelty Free International: This certificate signifies that no animal testing was carried out on any of the ingredients used within a product.

Check whether your suppliers have any of these certificates before displaying one of these badges. Displaying certain badges may require your company to go through an assessment first too to ensure that you meet the standards.

Background stories

You can also promote your ethical supply chain by providing a written background on your suppliers. This could include explaining exactly where your supplies come from and what makes them ethical.

This could be a dedicated page on your website or simply a small sentence of two on the back of product packaging. You could even provide photos of suppliers to help boost trust.

Behind-the-scenes videos

These are videos that take a look into how your product is made. Such videos could include tracing your product all the way back to its source suppliers, such as tracing the story of your wooden furniture back to a timber farm from where you source your timber. 

Such videos are great for sharing on social media or for displaying on your website. It is worth hiring a video production company to make sure that your video is high quality. You will need to talk to your suppliers to make sure that they are happy to be filmed. 


Infographics are digital illustrations that incorporate graphs and data. These images can be great for mapping out your supply chain and providing a small amount of information on each stage – with an emphasis on the ethics. You can share infographics on social media or use them on your website.

It’s also possible to guide people through your supply chain with an animation. This is ideal for creating video content in situations where your suppliers may not want to be filmed or where it may be too costly to fly out and film them. You can detail each part of the supply chain process with fun visuals, while explaining how each step is socially responsible. 


It could be possible to conduct an interview with one of your suppliers and get them to answer questions related to their ethical practices. This could be a video interview or a text interview that you can feature on your website.

Alternatively, you may be able to score an interview with a publication or radio station in which you discuss your supply chain in detail. This will typically require a newsworthy angle in order to get coverage. 

Social media support

Do your suppliers have social media accounts? You can show your support for their product by liking and sharing content on social media. Your followers can get to know who your suppliers are, while your suppliers can get more exposure. 

Article and permission to publish here provided by FatJoe Marketing. Originally written for Supply Chain Game Changer and published on July 28, 2023.

Cover image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay