Suppliers, Responsible Sourcing, and Your Company’s Reputation

By: | Posted in: Above & Beyond |

“If you have been following the garment manufacturing tragedy in Bangladesh, you are well aware of the outrage expressed over the factory collapse. You also are aware of the pressure likely to be exerted on retail outlets and clothing labels to ensure such deplorable and unsafe working conditions are not used in the creation of their garment lines.

Consumers have always wanted lower prices for goods and services, but today they also want businesses to be ethically and socially responsible, which includes responsible sourcing.

Regardless of company size, sourcing responsibly isn’t easy. You may identify vendors who verbally commit to standards but whose operation may not comply with the agreed-upon principles. Or, the supplier may aspire to meet the required social and environmental criteria, and being afraid to lose a major account, they decide not to share their shortcomings.

This means you must do our homework to locate suppliers that meet your requirements. And, you must develop procedures to ensure your social, ethical, and environmental expectations are met.

MillerCoors adopted responsible sourcing principles in 2008. In 2011, the company asked a number of its top suppliers to join the Supplier Ethical Data Exchange (Sedex). Sedex is a nonprofit that provides a standardized format, based on internationally-recognized protocols for companies to report their sustainability practices voluntarily. This information goes into a database that is shared with other companies in the hopes of identifying high-risk priorities in agriculture, packaging, and promotion. By taking a transparent approach and sharing socially responsible data with others, MillerCoors does more than demonstrate its commitment and accountability; it positions itself as a leader in corporate responsibility practices.

Cosmetic manufacturer L’Oreal’s strategy is to tackle sourcing on a four-prong platform: diversity, environment, fair trade, and social, health and safety. Suppliers are regularly evaluated on key performance indicators including social and environmental responsibility practices.

In 2011, Target conducted 1,859 unannounced social compliance audits with vendors. Any business partner producing privately-branded products for the company was required to participate in this program. In fact, each facility was only allowed 20 minutes after an auditor arrives before the audit must begin. After that time the auditor would leave and Target would consider the audit denied.

The outcomes of these audits were used to make improvements in the retailer’s processes as well as to share what it learned with governments and nonprofit organizations in an effort to improve social compliance across the industry…”

For the complete article by Ruth Kinzey, please click here


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