Achieving Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health’s Healthy Lives Mission requires its supply chains to be healthy, as well. Here, Worldwide VP of Supply Chain Meri Stevens shares insights gained from collaborating with suppliers to achieve agility in complex supply chains.
Last fall, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health launched its $800 million Healthy Lives Mission — a sustainability and wellness strategy built on the recognition that human health is interdependent with the health of communities and the planet.
We spoke with Meri Stevens, Worldwide VP of Supply Chain at Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health, for updates on progress on the Mission and advice for maintaining agility in complex supply chains.
Sustainability initiatives designed to reduce environmental impact throughout the supply chain often also result in cost efficiencies. In what ways have you seen the focus on sustainability unlock value in the supply chain and support business growth?
Meri Stevens: Support for sustainability makes good business sense — not only in the eyes of our consumers but because it enables us to amplify great business outcomes.
As part of the world’s largest healthcare company, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health is uniquely positioned and has a responsibility to approach health (of people and our planet) in an integrated way — with our employees providing the fuel. We are accelerating our Healthy Lives Mission to increases value for our customers, consumers and employees by innovating our supply chain to deliver meaningful brand upgrades and reduce costs while helping preserve the health of our planet. Investment into our brands and operations reduces our environmental impact, creating momentum to positively affect public health. The best of these programs not only serve this purpose, but drive growth and release trapped costs.
As an example, our commitment to reduce complexity and waste in our product packaging allows us to reduce costs and associated environmental impacts. We recently worked with one of our retail partners to remove the unnecessary plastic blister from a few of our Neutrogena products: Neutrogena’s Oil-Free Acne Wash, Pink Grapefruit Facial Wash and Healthy Defence Daily Moisturizer with Sunscreen. Collectively, the elimination of these excess blister packs eliminated 96,200 pounds of plastic and 3.2 million square feet of corrugated cardboard material. The smaller and simpler packages can now be more efficiently stored and transported, reducing the number of shipments and maximizing the value of each transport. Additionally, reviews of our logistics revealed opportunities to remove hundreds of trucks from the road without sacrificing supply and is estimated to have doubled our miles-per-gallon fuel savings.
How do you ensure a sustainability approach is embedded throughout your supply chain strategy?
MS: Ensuring that sustainability initiatives are central to our end-to-end supply chain strategy requires a mix of both process and culture.
We know that consumers are increasingly seeking personal care products that are good for them and their loved ones, good for communities and the planet. This is what motivates our teams across the business to deliver more sustainable products and solutions. To ensure that we are meeting our commitments and that sustainability is embedded across our supply chain, we have policies and governance structures for our teams and business partners. These processes involve dedicated governance teams — including oversight of sustainability initiatives, supplier programs that drive social and environmental improvements, regular environmental health and safety and social audits at internal and external sites, and comprehensive corporate disclosures on relevant sustainability metrics and goals.
Accompanying these essential procedural elements is our ingrained culture of sustainability.
How do you work with suppliers to monitor and improve the sustainability of their operations?
MS: Collaboration with our suppliers to accelerate environmental and social improvements across the value chain, is not new — it is one of the tenets of our partnerships. At Johnson & Johnson, we recently launched a new public-facing goal that by 2025 we will expand the Johnson & Johnson Supplier Sustainability Program to include all suppliers — allowing us to monitor, engage and collaborate on our joint environmental, social and ethical obligations.
As part of this work, we engage our suppliers to cascade our Responsibility Standards for Suppliers — which were developed to assist us with selecting suppliers who operate in a manner consistent with our guiding principles and to support our suppliers in understanding and upholding our expectations. We strive to include elements of these Standards in purchasing contracts and may take steps to assess a supplier’s conformance to them*.*
We conduct regular social and environmental audits at our supplier sites to ensure compliance and work with them to remedy instances of non-conformance.
What supply chain innovations or adaptations are underway to meet the Healthy Lives Mission commitments?
MS: We collaborate end to end to develop sustainable products and paths to delight our customers and consumers. We are focused on improving our products and ensuring our production, warehousing and logistics meet our Healthy Lives Mission commitments. We are launching products with more sustainable formulations, increased PCR (post-consumer recycled plastic) and improved recyclability; as well as exciting refill and reuse solutions, that will help decrease single-use plastic packaging. We are committed to 100 percent renewable electricity by 2025 and carbon neutrality for our operations by 2030. Our end-to-end team is also focused on ensuring data and analytics in these areas as an important asset in our sustainability journey.
What advice would you give for keeping agility in a complex supply chain?
MS: Perhaps the most essential factor for maintaining a successful agile structure at Johnson & Johnson is empowering our teams, not just our leaders, to make impactful business decisions. We believe that our end-to-end cross-functional teams should have the resources, knowledge and drive to make the best decisions for the business without bureaucratic red tape or obstructionist approval processes. Armed with this capability, clear goals and guardrails, our teams can adapt quickly to changing business conditions and market trends.
How have supply chain employees risen to the challenge of providing continuous supply of healthcare products during the COVID-19 pandemic?
MS: Throughout this pandemic, I’ve been impressed by the ways in which our people have demonstrated true resilience and leadership as they adapted to new challenges. Our supply chain organization worked together, end to end, with our commercial and R&D partners, our customers, suppliers and other organizations to mobilize as one team and meet this responsibility head on.
Some specific examples of our teams rising to the challenge would be our distribution centers rapidly implementing new and enhanced safety precautions and expanding normal working hours around the clock to fulfil critical personal protective equipment (PPE) support shipments. We shifted some of our manufacturing lines to produce much-needed hand sanitizers and increased the production of high-demand products to meet the needs of consumers all over the world. As commercial airline flights were cancelled, we worked with Third Party Logistics (3PL) partners to quickly pivot to intermodal solutions, including expanding the use of “driverless” rail and sea freight. Lastly, our customer service teams expanded the use of chatbots and digital technology to respond to inquiries from home to comply with social-distancing guidelines.
What is the one lesson from the pandemic you are taking into 2021?
MS: The power of true business agility, digital and empowering our people. Long before the pandemic, our supply chain teams were on a journey to improve our digital workflows. When the crisis demanded faster decision-making, our ongoing investments in digital technologies and ways of working accelerated rapidly, and allowed us to meet the moment and continue to deliver for our customers more efficiently and effectively. In the future, it will be no less important for us to be able to quickly respond to changing business conditions; our newfound agility is a powerful tool for addressing those changes and making the necessary adjustments.
How do you inspire employees to keep a sustainability mindset?
MS: For the entirety of Johnson & Johnson’s 135-year history, our most foundational goal has been to improve the trajectory of human health — a goal that is still ubiquitous across all sectors and functions today.
Our commitment to environmental stewardship is rooted in our Credo (our company values) and also in the understanding that the health and wellbeing of people and the planet are fundamentally linked.
That is why our Healthy Lives Mission is focused on improving both the health of people and the planet. By ensuring that sustainability is inseparable from our foundational mission of improving human health, we’re compelling sustainability considerations for all business decisions and empowering our teams to pursue sustainability agendas. We see every day how we can make a difference in the world when we engage our minds and hearts. It starts with each one of us, #ONETEAM.