Supply chains hold some of the greatest opportunities for sustainability breakthroughs and advancements, and concern for sustainability in the supply chain has become front and center. In this year's study, shippers and third-party logistics providers said they are including ESG priorities in their supply chain and growth strategies.

To varying degrees, environmental, social and governance initiatives are seen as helping to achieve efficiencies, cost savings, profitability and a competitive advantage.

Among shippers, 59% indicated their organization had an ESG program with defined goals and objectives, and 51% indicated their supply chain had an ESG program with defined goals and objectives. Just under half of 3PL providers, 45%, said their organization had an established ESG program.

It was encouraging that 76% of shippers and 80% of 3PLs agreed that the focus of shippers' supply chains is mostly on the shipper organization itself and also on the most proximate supplier and customer organizations; 71% of shippers and 70% of 3PLs felt that the focus of supply chains is more "end-to-end" and extends more deeply into supplier and customer networks.

Supply chain areas felt to have made the greatest progress with ESG include sourcing and procurement, supplier management, manufacturing, transportation and warehousing. As part of this year's study, researchers found several facilitators that could have positive impacts on 3PL-customer relationships in relation to ESG, such as executive sponsorship/commitment and having structured ESG goals and plans.