To help ensure that it is partnering with companies and organizations that align with its vision for sustainability, GM has set carbon neutrality targets that it believes helps to raise the standards for its suppliers and partners.
GM expects its professional service partners to set goals that target 2025 for carbon neutrality. Manufacturers within the GM supply chain, Gersdorff said, should aspire to reach carbon neutrality goals by 2035, and raw materials and logistics partners should aim to do the same by 2038.
While participation in third-party verification of carbon neutrality initiatives is voluntary, GM looks to companies that have aligned with these verification initiatives. Certification from CDP and EcoVadis, for instance, help GM better track sustainability performance along its supply chain.
"It is critical that we understand the players in our supply chain because it helps us to start to define our strategy," Gersdorff said. "If we don't know what's in our supply chain, we can't possibly understand the risks in our supply chain. That means we can't adequately make a strategy to address the risks."
Understandably, Gersdorff said, the sustainability journey can feel overwhelming and, at times, perhaps impossible. But everyone within every company or organization has a critical role to play in shaping the direction of the entity. The work each person does to push a given company toward its sustainability goals pushes the entire industry forward.
And the good news about individuals taking responsibility for the sustainability future, he added, is that leaders emerge—maybe even in places you least expected.
"We need each of us to be leaders. Not only for our institutions at the top," Gersdorff said. " … Who is stepping up? Who is going to be the next leaders in sustainability? We need to be looking for these folks, we need to be investing in these folks, educating them, giving them opportunities. This is critical for our futures."