The Harvard Business Review offers a framework for understanding transparency of a supply chain, and how much progress a business has made, ranging from having received and accepted a code of conduct - to full disclosure of certifications, traceability and reputable disclosure.
It is incumbent upon businesses then to make these ongoing efforts apparent to clients. American clothing retailer Patagonia, for example, has an interactive (even fun) page on its website which shows important elements of its supply chain, and the changes it's making to become a more overall ethical company. It reassures its customers that, even if it hasn’t got it all correct yet, the company is investing in these issues and is being accountable.
It's not merely about keeping up appearances. Transparency also improves trust between trading partners and overall risk management, helping to prevent a supply, or reputational, crisis.
Building trust and reputation has only become more important. Previously, B2B clients often would just stay with one company for many years. But the situation is quickly changing: in a more agile and flexible world, customers can research and find alternatives at the click of a button - and competitors are not few and far between. Trust is an essential way of standing out from the pack.