Up Close is Sourcing Journal’s regular check-in with industry executives to get their take on topics ranging from personal style to their company’s latest moves. In this Q&A, Jamie Barsimantov, chief operating officer and co-founder of responsible supply chain software firm SupplyShift, discusses how sustainability is shaping his consumer behavior and his company’s actions.
Name: Jamie Barsimantov
Title: chief operating officer and co-founder
Which other industry has the best handle on the supply chain? What can apparel learn?
That’s a tough question. I would say there is no industry that has a perfect handle on the supply chain, but there are things apparel can learn from other industries, and there are some industries doing more than others. The work being done in palm oil is impressive. There is a great mix of certification and deep supplier engagement to address social, ethical, environmental and community issues. Generally industries that produce things that people put on or in their body are further along in the supply chain transparency journey.
Do you consider yourself a typical consumer?
I always try to be conscious about my purchasing decisions so that I am buying as responsibly as possible. I try to only buy what I need, and when I do buy, I try to buy local, organic, sustainable and transparent products. I like to think consumer habits are trending in this direction as well. I don’t know if sustainable purchasing is “typical” yet, but I think we’ll get there soon.
As a consumer, what does it take to win your loyalty?
Honesty, transparency and putting your best foot forward. I would rather see a company be honest about their sustainability challenges than try to mask them with greenwashing campaigns.
What’s your typical uniform?
Flip flops, cargo shorts and a 10-year-old T-shirt
Who’s your style icon?
What’s the best decision your company has made in the past year?
Solidifying our partnership with The Sustainability Consortium and hosting THESIS (The Sustainability Insight System) Index. The partnership has created a lot of momentum in retail sustainability. Walmart, Kroger, Sprouts and others used it to measure product sustainability metrics on over 1,500 major consumer brands in 2019, and the scale is only going to get bigger with time.
How would you describe your corporate culture?
Open, collaborative and dedicated
What should be the apparel industry’s top priority now?
Apparel is one of the better-performing industries when it comes to driving progress in sustainability. I think the challenge the industry needs to solve is how to integrate those activities into their everyday business practices.
What keeps you up at night?
Climate change, both from a personal and professional perspective. I don’t want to see my daughter inherit the challenges we’ve created over generations. I also spend a lot of time thinking about the best ways businesses can solve climate issues in their supply chains.
What makes you most optimistic?
How collaborative the sustainability space is becoming. There are so many companies, NGOs, governments and solutions working together to standardize approaches and solve issues. There’s a long way to go, but I’ve seen a ton of progress in the last five years.
Tell us about your company’s latest product introduction/service:
We just announced a free COVID-19 Impact Assessment on March 17. Supply chains are going online and offline on a day-by-day basis right now, and businesses need a way to rapidly and frequently quantify the risks the pandemic is posing to their business. Our platform was built for supply chain transparency, and we’ve decided to develop an assessment to help companies map their supply chains while measuring the impacts coronavirus is having on supplier operations.