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Empowering Tomorrow’s Leaders: The Journey through Supply Chain Social Sustainability

16 November 2023

In the dynamic landscape of business education,  Cardiff Business School has been pioneering a transformative approach to supply chain management. At the heart of this evolution is the ground-breaking “Supply Chain Social Sustainability” (SCSS) module, curated by Dr. Maryam Lotfi, co-chair of Cardiff University’s Modern Slavery and Social Sustainability  Research group. This narrative takes you on a journey through this unique educational experience that is shaping the business leaders of tomorrow.

Picture this — a course that transcends traditional supply chain management, delving into the intricate web of social issues woven into the fabric of modern business. Dr. Lotfi recognized a key gap in higher education, steering her expertise towards the urgent need for a comprehensive understanding of social sustainability within supply chains.

The SCSS module helps attending students to navigate through the realms of workers’ rights, inclusivity, child slavery, forced labour, and gender issues. As Zhenmei Jin, a previous MSC student from Cohort 2023, reflects:

Do you think modern slavery is far away from us? Actually, it’s not. So how should we define and prevent modern slavery? Welcome to find the answer in the class of SCSS module…

Amy Boote, currently a Ph.D. student at Cardiff Business School and a member of the MSSS Research Group, who is researching gender inequality and environmental impact in the fashion supply chain and is a previous MSc student from SCSS Cohort 2022, reflects on how the module influenced her career path and dissertation topic:

I came to understand through the module that transparency in the fast fashion industry can only materialize if consumers and future decision-makers are empowered through academic knowledge, and this is where I was convinced that my dissertation topic needed to make a vital, lasting impact.

For students like Zhenmei Jin, the SCSS module is more than just a class; it’s a compass guiding a future business manager through the uncharted territories of modern slavery. Zhenmei’s reflection echoes the sentiment that social sustainability isn’t a distant concept but a critical consideration for every aspiring leader. According to Jin:

Speaking of skills, will this course help me in my future career path? Yes, I personally believe so. When you try to start looking for a job, you will find that almost all companies (especially European companies) will emphasize that they regard DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) as an important corporate culture. When you have gone through the SCSS course, firstly, you will be able to easily understand the company’s intention to emphasize DEI, and secondly, you will be able to judge whether the company is really good enough in DEI construction…”

What sets SCSS apart is its real-world engagement. Inviting managers from NGOs, like “Unseen,” and speakers from the “Welsh Government” to share first-hand experiences of their work to combat modern slavery adds a visceral layer to the learning experience.

For prospective students, the SCSS module is more than just a course; it’s a transformative experience. From understanding the intricacies of social sustainability to decoding the buzzwords of corporate culture like ESG and DEI, SCSS equips students with a unique lens through which to view the world of business. As Amy advises:

Learning about how complex supply chains prevent us from seeing how products are produced, under which conditions, and by whom, was an extremely insightful takeaway from the module. It was eye-opening to truly understand the complexities of labour exploitation on our doorstep and delve into, for instance, the conditions that enable slavery in the context of luxury fashion.

The SCSS module is not a one-time affair; it’s a commitment to an ongoing dialogue against modern slavery. Year after year, new cohorts of students step into the footsteps of their predecessors, ensuring a sustained impact on the world of business.

As we navigate the complex waters of modern business, the SCSS module stands as a beacon, illuminating the path towards socially sustainable leadership. It’s more than an academic experience; it’s a call to action, urging students to not just be leaders but advocates for positive change in the intricate tapestry of global supply chains. The SCSS module is not just a course; it’s a movement towards a more sustainable, ethical, and socially responsible future.

Join the SCSS journey, where knowledge meets impact, and students emerge not just as graduates but as advocates for a better tomorrow.

 Dr Maryam lotfi with special thanks to Amy Boote and Zhenmei Jin

16 Nov. 2023