Over the past two years, Intel has organized an annual Supplier Sustainability Leadership Summit in Shanghai to generate ideas from suppliers, government, academia, NGOs, media, and industries outside of the information and communications technology sector about how to have meaningful dialogue on the most significant environmental, social, and governance (ESG) challenges in our supply chain. By focusing on the business value of ESG, we aim to increase supplier capability in ESG and help solve some of the major issues our industry faces.

At our 2013 summit, we decided it was time to engage with other leading companies that have strong track records on ESG challenges in order to learn from each other’s efforts, use best practices, and identify opportunities for closer collaboration on shared issues like working hours.

As we begin to plan our 2014 summit, I have been reflecting on why we need more cross-sector collaboration on supply chain sustainability, and just what that would look like. Working with BSR, we captured some of Intel’s initial thinking in a recent paper. In my view, more collaboration would encompass two attributes:

1. Greater focus on the most significant and complex shared challenges: Working hours, occupational health and safety, and developing the capabilities of suppliers to address ESG issues are top of mind for many. Though there are many examples of both company and industry-specific initiatives, I believe more cross-sector effort would deliver greater results since these issues are systemic.

Could we, for instance, share compliance data and improve monitoring programs? Or could we discuss unique ways ESG has been integrated into sourcing practices, with the goal of having a positive impact on both buyers and suppliers?

2. More collaboration to maximize the value of finite resources: By working more closely across industries, we can identify ways to make progress more quickly. There are instances of this happening (including BSR’s Beyond Monitoring effort, which is described in the paper). But I think there is more to be done.

For example, could several company and industry-specific supplier capability-building initiatives be combined into one, to promote more rapid learning and improvements? And could we expand our reach—accessing more suppliers, content experts, topics, results—by sharing time, expenses, and the expertise needed to manage such an event? How much more can we collectively improve and sustainably solve pressing issues if we pull together leading companies and supply chains in one place? Could we create a robust, weeklong, global supply chain sustainability summit that would be the event, no matter what sector, for the best and most innovative ESG content?

I want like-minded businesses, industry associations, NGOs, and other stakeholders to find answers to these questions and others, together. Intel is open to exploring a range of collaboration models. The ideas above are intended to get the conversation started. I look forward to hearing your thoughts, feedback, and creative suggestions for working together to achieve common goals.

Inspired by this call to action? Get in touch with the author at jocelyn.cascio@intel.com.