Slavery. Our time to act?

Monday, September 05, 2016

18:00 - 21:00

New data is shining a light on the alarming levels of modern slavery in business today. The Global Slavery Index estimates there are 46m victims of forced labour worldwide, 58% of whom live in five countries - India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Uzbekistan. And many of these countries are providing low cost labour for western consumers.

Most companies consider modern slavery to be unacceptable but acknowledge that they can’t see beyond the 2nd or 3rd tiers of their supply chain. Higher levels of transparency and regulation are increasing the risk of ignorance, and business has to offset the cost of leading versus crisis management.

The more ethical businesses are taking action. This year, Nestle commissioned - and published - research that found slavery in its Thai shrimp supply chains, and M&S published its first Human Rights report. The risks are most acute in the electronics, steel, agriculture and seafood, mining and textile sectors.

We began with a keynote from Nick Grono, CEO of the Freedom Fund, an initiative launched by Bill Clinton to mobilise the knowledge and capital needed to end modern slavery. Moderated by Axel Threlfall, we then heard the perspectives of;

  • Benet Northcote, Director, Corporate Responsibility, John Lewis Partnerships
  • Natacha Dimitrijevic, Associate Director, Continental Europe, Hermes Investments Management
  • Simon Henzell-Thomas, Head of Stakeholder Engagement and Group Social Responsibility Manager, IKEA

The panel discussion touched on issues such as;

  • What does acceptable supply chain visibility look like in 2016?
  • To what extent does business need to go beyond legislation?
  • How should business record slavery on their risk agenda?
  • How can technology reduce the costs of supply chain visibility?
  • Which businesses are the role models to learn from?

Please note this event is currently full. If you would like to be added to the waitlist, please apply below and we'll get back to you if a place becomes available closer to the event.

Speakers

Axel Threlfall Reuters

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Benet Northcote John Lewis Partnership

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Natacha Dimitrejevic Hermes Equity Ownership Servi...

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Nick Grono Freedom Fund

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Simon Henzell-Thomas IKEA

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Round Tables

Behaviour change

Consumers who purchase goods and services, and front-line managers in supply chains have huge potential power to shape business. Is behaviour change to encourage slavery free choices the right way to go? How would that work in practice and is there appetite and expertise to make it happen?

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Introduction from the chair about the importance of looking at motivators and barriers in changing the behaviour of both consumers and businesses – is it just money or can we think of other things that will make a difference?

Changing consumer behaviour:
- We heard from the panel that consumers choose products based on quality and price, but the consensus on the table wasn’t that clear cut. Examples of widespread ethical consumer choices were discussed e.g. free range eggs and fair trade.
- Behaviour change can often be about information and myth-busting, so informing consumers about the issue – we shouldn’t assume they are ignorant. However it was also discussed that even customers that are aware of ethical issues would often assume that the companies they are buying products from are ‘doing the right thing’
- Behaviour change is about practical action, but do consumers know what they can do? There is an opportunity to educate consumers. Millennials are showing interest in making ethical choices and are changing the way consumers are treated by corporates.
- Education could be in the form of something such as school workshops and the key message needs to be that everyone in society has a role to play.
- Businesses need to simplify their reporting process so it is easier for consumers to understand what impact their purchasing choices have.

Changing the behaviour of businesses:
- There was consensus on the table that the business community needs to be more honest about slavery in their supply chains.
- Is there a duty for businesses to be more transparent with consumers? The example was given of a ‘may contain slavery’ label – clearly transparency on this level isn’t realistic but what could a higher level of transparency look like?
- It is incredibly challenging for businesses fully understanding the higher tiers of their supply chains. The point was made that the idea of businesses investigating tier 9 is ‘fanciful’ and what would be far more effective would be to form partnerships around the supply chains.
- If we assume that the majority of consumers choose a product based on price and quality, and that investigating and correcting supply chain issues is costly, then companies that work on producing slavery free products would need to reflect the cost in the price.
- However it could also be assumed that there is money in the supply chain that is being absorbed by the criminality of the organisations involved in slavery. Once issues are corrected this money can be redirected to the right places.
- It can also be argued that improving working conditions would improve product quality.
- There was discussion around whether businesses should terminate a contract with a supplier if they find evidence of slavery or whether they should work with the supplier to improve. Most seemed to think that it would be more effective to work with the supplier, but that this would open the business up to critique.
- Working with a supplier will be all about behaviour change – importance of celebrating successes and piloting best practice, so it can be shared with others.
- Cross sector collaboration is very important and increases market pressure on suppliers.
- Encouraging ‘whistle blowing’ and making this easy and accessible, so supporting individuals that speak out, is key in achieving impact.
- Supporting workers to form unions could improve working conditions more effectively than CSR initiatives.
- Start-ups/disruptors are useful in highlighting supply chain issues e.g. Fairphone

Conclusion
Behaviour change is an essential element in any effort to eliminate modern slavery, looking creatively beyond financial motivators to things such as product quality or enabling whistle-blowing will be important.

Beyond audits

How the existing auditing practices could be improved and customised to include slavery reporting? What other mechanism could be developed beyond traditional auditing that would detect forced labour in corporate supply chains? And what are the challenges with implementing those potential options?

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TABLE 2A

Limited resources are currently impeding companies to go deeper into the supply chain to achieve greater transparency. Ensuring that information can be collected and be trusted adds financial pressure to supply chain budget that are already under strain. Going beyond auditing may also entail a cultural shift from C-level management. Senior management needs to display a buy-into collective responsibility to oversee the application of existing policies and standards. It’s not about the responsibility of a single element, i.e this is not my problem/this is only your problem, but there’s collective responsibility in enforcing current legislations.

Going beyond audits requires companies to think and act collectively when putting greater pressure on the governments and local authorities to be the auditor and the enforcer of existing legislation and standards. Business community efforts for a more transparent supply would go further. Practically it means professionalising official inspections so that local officials are free of corruption and well trained. Going back to proper visual inspections adds trusts to the information gathering process. Last but not lease, dissipating the official audits to all stakeholders reduces cost to the supply chain.

Technology can play a role in gathering more information and trust the validity and accuracy of the information. However, stretching the outreach of tech with apps that directly put in contact brands with workers risks replacing direct relations between employee and employer and bypassing the role of the unions. Maintaining these relationships is vital to safeguard a sustainable employment environment, to protect the anonymity of a whistle blower and put trust in the predisposed institutions.

Further opportunities could be found in collective and partner solution through joining forces with NGOs on both the brands and the local community side, the ILO, governments and local administrations. Jointly devising genuine financial risk reducing incentives or benefits for all stakeholders could be the approach to have sustainable factories beyond audits.

Crisis communications

Some of the biggest scandals tend to be connected to human right violations. In the era of ever growing corporate transparency, and given the widespread nature of slavery across industries, every company should know what’s the best way to handle the forced labour crisis.

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Companies more than ever are focusing efforts on how to best handle crisis, from both an internal and external communications point of view. Before the discussion began, members of the table were interested finding out more about;
• How to balance response with other demands?
• Hot to get companies looking at current risk, and how to prevent future panic?
• How reliable is auditing?
• How to imbed crisis management in business
“RISK”
How does the table feel about the statistic that 71% of companies believe there is a likelihood of modern slavery occurring in their supply chain?
• It is less about being perfect or 100% free of slavery and should be seen more as how a company responds to it
• Not shocked, the age of naivety is over. If a company is candid about where supplies are sourced there is a strong chance they know there is slavery
• Seen as brand and reputational risk, but we should see it as how a company handles it long term and their resilience
• Need to not view it downs the lens of risk, because then it becomes a short term problem and you take away the moral obligation.
What are the internal interactions in your organisation and what department does slavery sit?
• Sustainability, as it falls it is connected to moral obligation; HR as there is an aspect of employer regulation and also general counsel who look at legislation and compliance
• Within the social impact team, that is a subset of sustainability
• Supply chain and procurement
Have you seen any good modern slavery reports, and who were they?
• Yes, Marks and Spencer
• Yes, John Lewis,
• No, especially from large car manufacturers
What is the best way to respond to crisis?
• By making it consumer facing so that it becomes an issue the consumer cares about too
• Spend time with victims, families, pledge money, demonstration by Heads of departments and not just leaving it for PR
o Taking a humanitarian stance
• Be upfront that there is a problem but that you are going to fix it
• Be able to differentiate which are the important issues for leadership to react to and what can be left to comms teams
• Crisis response should come from the culture and purpose of a company
o Things can and will happen, but you will already be ahead of the game and know the issue before it becomes a crisis
• There needs to be a shift in business where you put the victims first, before you worry about the reputation of the company
Summary:
• Ultimately victims of crisis come first
• Pre-empt a crisis rather than sweeping it under the rug, you can then reflect on positive company practices
• The earlier you communicate the better

Digitalisation and slavery

What role proliferation of technology and smart phones can play in addressing the slavery issue? How it could empower your labour to report against human rights violations or achieve greater supply chain transparency. What tools are out there to enable such transition?

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TABLE 4A - Digitalisation and Slavery
Overall, the roundtable participants were in agreement that technology can be a useful tool for identifying modern slavery in the supply chain and will be important in the future. However, it was noted that there are limits to the usefulness of technology in addressing the root causes of the issue and observation will always play an important role.

Technological tools
There are a few technological tools that are already being used to provide insight into the scale of the issue by ‘peeling back another layer’.
It was pointed out that technology firstly needs to be used at a fundamental level to identify suspicious financial behaviour in the supply chain through checking tax statements and tracing payments going into alternative bank accounts.
‘Blockchain’ was mentioned multiple times as a useful tool.
Apps are already being used for tracking.
‘Tracked’ is being used to map company supply chains, although IP seems to be an issue as suppliers sometimes don’t wish to disclose where they source from. In general, ‘mapping the supply chain’ is only as good as the information taken from audits and responses from suppliers, which aren’t always comprehensive nor fact-based (Garbage In = Garbage Out).

Worker Voice
Worker Voice and Labour Link were mentioned as existing reporting tools.
Phones or apps can be used to allow observers to report suspicious behaviour but there are several issues in encouraging people to report – anonymity, language, literacy.
A new tool for compliance reporting via phones is in a pilot phase and will soon be released for use. It will allow for ‘bottom-up auditing’. Statements increase in credibility with increasing numbers of people reporting the same thing.

Challenges
Another challenge is the scalability of these tools as people in forced labour in remote and rural areas may not have access to phones/internet/signal.
An additional challenge is customer confidentiality for phone companies who might be able to trace the messages and calls of suspicious people.
The cost to companies of developing apps and other technological tools, without yet knowing how useful they will be, was highlighted as a potential barrier to use.
Sometimes it is just one person – a supervisor – who is corrupt. The challenge is finding that person.
One key question to ask is: once we’ve got the data, what are we going to do with it?

TABLE 4B - Digitalisation and slavery

What tools are available that might empower modern slaves or other employees and/or help with transparency?
• Provenance (https://www.provenance.org/) is a platform where businesses will sign up, and as buyers they can trace the entire supply chain. This could potentially be opened up to blockchain, in terms of putting the information out there on an “unmutable ledger” shared by everyone and not owned by anyone, thus surpassing one of the main dangers
• Labor Voices (https://www.laborvoices.com/) is a worker voice platform that sends text messages to workers, asking them a range of questions such as whether they have been paid on time, whether there is child labour in the factory, in return for information on labour rights, contracts, and incentives such as entering them in lottery. This is a more sophisticated take on hotlines
• UN app (http://www.eyewitnessproject.org/) is a smart-phone app that allows civilians to capture photos and footage of atrocities as they happen and submit the information to a virtual evidence locker so that it can be admissible as evidence in later legal proceedings. While it is not directly applicable to slavery in supply chains, it may be possible to adapt it to provide an effective tool for employees to report instances of abuse/coercion in the context of slavery
• Building on the smartphone video/creating data theme, there is perhaps plenty of potential using smaller spy type cameras of the kind currently used in war zones, for example a tiny camera has been developed to fit inside rhino horns http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-33590436
• Others companies such as GE have an interest around smart cities/smart buildings/smart censors; and understanding whether this type of technology can be used to capture modern slavery (e.g. via streetlights, airports cameras, etc.)
• A variety of other apps exist on the topic of ethical ownership, scanning barcodes etc. http://mashable.com/2015/04/24/ethical-fashion-tools/#i5pQlagyYGqu
http://www.onegreenplanet.org/lifestyle/10-essential-apps-for-the-conscious-consumer/
But are we any close to reaching a tipping point with any of these?
• California Legislation and the UK Modern Slavery Act help to create this tipping point
• To businesses you have to prove a business case: that you are finding things you wouldn’t have found anyway, that you are reducing costs, or otherwise supporting the business case
• Government collaboration could be interesting in assisting to enter into community groups – for example rather than a company to employ a social auditor to check for irregulaties, organisations such as Labour Voices take care of that organising surprise audits. Social auditing is massively flawed so the idea of using cameras can be very impactful
• It is not hard to imagine technology becoming increasingly integral given many workers are migrants, probably using WhatsApp-like apps but applying them in a different way
• The narrative really changes when lawyers and other professionals realise the issue is something they need to be advising on, and not something they need to be nervous about. Nowadays you’d absolutely have to advise compliance areas, e.g. transacton lawyers during large M&As are expected to advise on these areas. Shifting the narrative in what lawyers feel like they need to do to deliver value to their clients

Focus on employees

How does slavery rank alongside other sustainability issues? How would employees feel if they discovered there was a slavery scandal in their company’s supply chains? How important it’s for businesses to have slave-free supply chains to get the best talent and keep employees engaged?

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Reaction of business to issue of modern slavery
• Not traditionally high on CR agenda – therefore low on list of priorities
• Robust statements made by business, but can’t rely on them to be put in practice

Is modern slavery a concern raised directly by employees or is it organic?
• Focus on more traditional CR issues with highest risk first, so often not a priority or not a priority
• Complex, contemporary issue, not an historical one – employees often don’t understand the complexities of modern slavery
- There is a huge lack of understanding about the issue compared to other sustainability areas. That means a lot of fear from internal comms, to staff, to CR professionals to take action on the issue
• Effects of modern slavery only seen very far down the supply chain and often too far removed to see its effects for the general employee base
• Employees usually care about the problem, but not interested in the detail or in stepping up and taking initiative. Employees horrified when discover a problem exists
• From an ethical perspective, big effect on employee morale when questions and concerns raised
• Need to redefine what slavery is so can better address it
• Supplier questions on tenders often a tick box, generic exercise – and this is often the only time the issue gets raised, when procurement raises the issue

Why is it important for business live their statement on modern slavery?
• Employees will be horrified if knew what going on in supply chain; however not yet on peoples agenda. The profile needs to be raised
• Due to a lack of transparency in the supply chain, employees don’t realize that potential issues exist, until a scandal exists
• Ethics and responsible behavior important to millennials in order to recruit and retain them. They want to work for an organization that reflects their values. No longer loyal and therefore that personal, transparent relationship is important
• Human nature often willing to accept mistakes provided there is a solution

What more can be done to raise profile in business?
• Statements around modern slavery practice exist, but processes are lacking
• The Modern Slavery Act has driven a lot of attention and response, but it needs to be embedded in the culture of organisations for them to take action. CR professionals are actively looking for guidance on how to draft statements, impact assessments and action plans.
• Not a business priority and often overlooked – takes a scandal to illuminate the issue – need to identify a way to make it viral before this happens – almost needs a trigger before it becomes important
• Accept that there are issues and be upfront and honest about challenges. Make it clear that something is being done to address it. A proactive approach results in less damage to brand reputation
• Information is key – if it cant be defined, cant take action or even have conversation about how to do so
• There are not enough NGOs pushing/supporting on this issue, as they are on eg climate change - need to make this issue vital for them and to build their capacity to challenge/assist

What can be done to get employees thinking about these issues?
• Difficult to talk to issue of modern slavery head on – need to connect more with employees – make it more relevant for them in order to resonate. “People look after people” - transforms modern slavery into a moral argument rather than a risk based one
• Build into corporate inductions/workshops to engage employees
• Encourage environment where concerns can be raised and actions taken
• Training all good and well but another level required around how to identity and act when issues arise – go above and beyond in terms of how employees can support and become engaged
• Formal working groups where passionate people can come together to solve challenges rather than traditional e-learning module
• Issues to be championed by employees – through change agents and then communicated outwards as others look to them and follow suite. Pods of like minded people – opens door for others to become engaged and empowered
• Story telling – target employees with short stories

Is there a need to share knowledge/effective practice in order to build confidence within the organization?
• Sharing of effective practice is key
• CR teams often lack expertise around issues due to level of complexity. Collaborate with entire ecosystem – bring in partners with relevant resources and skillsets
• Crowd source solutions – find people internally and externally that passionate and will form a community to solve challenge

Final thoughts/reflections
• Big issue to tackle – unsure where to start – many want to do something about it – harness this. Encourage open dialogue with suppliers
• See it as an issue close to home as well – not just in developing world – e.g. London living wage – only then do others take note and leadership becomes engaged
• New regulation is a positive step – human rights never contemplated previously
• It is okay to not always know the answer
• Interest in a peer to peer network - perhaps as a spin off of this session - to share challenges and responses

From paper to performance

You’ve assessed your risks, written your statement and developed a plan of action. What does it take to ensure your plan leads to real outcomes to mitigate slavery, and that you can measure and demonstrate your success in publishing your next statement?

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Understanding the Risk
-companies are embracing the changes in legislation trying to tackle the big problem of slavery and paving the way to completely dissolve it
-there are different recruitment procedures within the supply chain where recruiters higher employees without the direct engagement with the parent company. This limits the transparency of the process
-there is identification of slavery in geographical “hot spots” where at different Tiers this is more profound and very difficult to identify
-Challenge: in many cases the employees are not permanent and thus this increases the ability of the company to resolve the issue

Leverage
-audits can be challenged in hot spot areas or where there are any issues raised. Audits need to be reviewed on a regular basis
-audits can be verified through 3rd party verifications
-there needs to be some leverage for issues such as slavery in the Code of Conduct
-Ethical Code or Code of Conduct should be accepted and supported by the Board to its core in order to be implemented in all the activities of the company

Organised mapping
-forward thinking into a 10-year trajectory thinking of the bigger picture
-there needs to be collaboration within the supply chain at the different geographical areas to decrease the risks identified through training
-companies need to have the full picture of their supply chain in order to tackle any issues that may arise
-lower tiers of the supply chain are very hard to monitor or to have direct communication to implement any strategies to alleviate the problem
-Action: investing in an NGO that oversees employees and their well-being in the work space in addition to having direct communication with relevant personnel in the Head Office or branches
-Joining a procurement policy with same values and principles where suppliers need to be audited

Risks of slavery

What are the risks of not addressing slavery on time? How well is the problem understood by businesses, and what is the cost of having a crisis associated with forced labour? We continue the plenary session’s conversation and explore how businesses should take action on slavery.

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What are the risks to business of not acting on modern slavery?
• Once you uncover slavery you uncover lots of other business risks -> this is more than reputational.
• To what extent is there real legal risk? At the moment that risk is not very tangible but interesting to hear that we are not yet at ‘peak legislation’ on this – strong message to get the lawyers interested.
• Dangerous to release a statement saying ‘no risk of slavery’ – still compliant but NGOs will pick up on it
• Retrofitting a solution later will be more costly than being proactive now.
• A moral imperative is not a strong enough argument on its own. Acting on slavery is difficult to argue against as a principle. However, the prioritisation and implementation of it is difficult and will need to be linked to business benefits to gain traction.

Is the Modern Slavery Act an opportunity?
• If you are up on the stage now – big opportunity to say you are ahead and take the leadership benefits.
• Opportunity to build momentum in the business from the Modern Slavery Act but difficult to maintain the momentum once the initial statement has been completed.

Challenges with implementing the Modern Slavery Act
• It asks “what actions have you taken to ensure there is no slavery” – nobody can commit to that.
• Tendency to be risk adverse when releasing the statement – want to show some leadership but equally how can you make a statement that no one can prove is incorrect?
• Disconnect within the businesses between the lawyers and the sustainability team. Is this an expansion of strict legal risk? – need to help lawyers understand broader context of this.
• Finite period of time to get these issues out on the table – can understand that people can’t have a never-ending grace period but also a balance needs to be had so companies trying to start looking at this issue get immediately attacked by campaigns etc. (also concern that campaigns sometimes attack leading companies)
• Brands working hard to address this but many other companies don’t get scrutinised - no level playing field.
• Will anyone scrutinise these statements with good knowledge of what does constitute a robust program?
• No best practice bar and no evaluation mechanism: the statement is free text and subjective. NB: CORE Alliance brought together some examples of statements but this is clearly still an emerging field.

How well understood is modern slavery?
• Have never really thought about cleaners, haven’t considered the implications from Brexit on illegal labour.
• Understanding in the financial industry is still at the very beginning – assumption that there is no slavery in employees; suppliers are a big unknown (cleaning, etc.); clients have always been seen as a big risk.

Risk assessment & implementation
• How do we quantify the risk – can’t put a price on human rights (or offset them!). Need to see the risk in a different way and decision at the end of the day must be ‘yes’ (we will engage) or ‘no’ to providing finance.
• Difficult to have visibility all along the supply chain (esp. for financial industry when assessing clients).
• Hard to be proactive in identifying risks rather than reactive e.g. one company used the global slavery index to assess different tender applications but took a lot of time.
• One approach to implementation is gradually working down the supply chain but setup of the company is key – hub based business in regional teams can be well set up to look at local geographical risks.
• Risk assessment can be patchy e.g. might be neglecting a country that is not typically a red flag.
• The UN Guiding Principles on Human Rights may be one way of prioritising different modern slavery issues.
• Need to get better data on risks than is available in the media in e.g. on the refugee crisis.

Smart technologies

With the immense proliferation of technologies, where are the opportunities in digital and smart in sustainability? How could they be applied best to social and environmental aspects of sustainability? Explore the wider market trends and possible use of smart technologies to address the biggest sustainability challenges.

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• Technology is not necessarily what will change the business environment – it’s the decisions that people will make based on the data collected by these technologies
• It’s culturally specific (human rights) – if you take any company that’s operating transnationally with complex supply chains, it’s very hard to have detailed information
o We need tech and data that adapts to the needs of humans and helps us to identify trends; and is scalable and usable
o Cultural contexts and the nuances have to be accounted for and understood in order to make good decisions and changes
• In many of these areas, basic needs are not being met and data is very secondary – the data isn’t there in many of the environments where we are sourcing – what’s the business model for that data capture? The business model needs to change, but how?
• Bayesian statistics: a different philosophy of how to deal with statistical data (gut feeling based on confirmed or less confirmed); named for Thomas Bayes (1701-1761), is a theory in the field of statistics in which the evidence about the true state of the world is expressed in terms of 'degrees of belief' called Bayesian probabilities.
• Smart technology is one the first industrial movements that has sustainability hard wired from the start
• What is smart technology: the internet of things, machine learning, robots
• What are the key sustainability challenges that can smart technology overcome?
o Microfinance (use of mobile technology)
o Renewable energy empowers rural communities that don’t have the capacity to be part of a grid
o Crowd sourcing: gives more people the opportunity to come up with good ideas and products
o Smart loans
• How can smart technologies help the consumer?
o They expect businesses to be sustainable and ethical, but they might not want to be the ones to do the research
o How can we bring the consumer closer to the origin of the products they are buying – humanize the transaction (Patagonia is a really good example)
• There is a role for technology to play in a fully traceably supply chain, but more than that there is a role for government to play and verify the data without companies having to disclose their business advantages publically
• Brand’s decision on what stories they want to tell. Shouldn’t be a binary decision – it’s about brands and businesses taking responsibility for their supply chains and; use smart technology to help with that.
• Smart technology is something that either makes a decisions or helps you to make decisions.
• Someone needs to be the overarching party so that businesses so not have to publicly disclose a competitive advantage. This way, consumers and competitors can be sure that companies are following the rules, but performance is not penalised because of the disclosure. Who is that party? The government, a third party start up?
• Nestle Cocoa report.

Supplier engagement

What’s the latest thinking on how to work best with suppliers on sustainability issues? How do you manage to go beyond Tier 2 suppliers and ensure audits deliver results? How to balance short term punishment approach with long term collaboration that is aimed to build incremental improvements?

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TABLE 9A

- Creating a platform/’Supply Forum’ and a benchmarking system (bronze, silver, gold levels) for suppliers to motive them to improve their performance in 10 areas identified (‘10 factors methodology’, incl. CSR, carbon reduction, etc.). Main motivators are competitive spirit and opportunities to reduce costs. This platform can be public, thus, allowing other companies to assess the list of ‘responsible’ suppliers.
- It is important to recognise various levels of sustainable performance of suppliers (apply step-wise approach). The suppliers become committed and they know they will be supported if they perform better. When minimum benchmark is achieved, they are willing to reach the higher level. This means that reducing costs is not the only motivational factor: for instance, if you put two sustainable specialists from different companies in one room, they won’t talk about costs but would try to discuss opportunities for improvement in sustainable performance. Collaboration is very important.
- Sometimes it helps to get rid of ‘sustainability’ terminology to make the suppliers more motivated and interested (e.g. use ‘increase efficiency’ terminology, etc.);
- Software can be used as a networking tool to motivate suppliers to be more responsible and even may result in them having more income/more clients attracted in future. It may be a database of suppliers that have passed through a proper audit process and are now ‘certified’ as responsible and sustainable partners.
- From the lenders’ point of view tracing transactions may be used to know more about the supply chain.
- If budget and timeframes allow, random suppliers’ audits can be conducted.

Other aspects raised:
- A ‘dirty tail’ problem: if certain suppliers are excluded from business by ‘good people’, they will still move/work somewhere else, they won’t disappear;
- In developing areas working for the ‘dirty suppliers’ is sometimes the only opportunity for local people to earn some money;
- As forced/child labour/slavery practices are illegal worldwide, businesses could cooperate with law enforcement institutions, as well as NGO. Lobbying could be considered;
- Lenders could influence the project developers and, thus, avoid risks related to ‘dirty suppliers’ by putting certain conditions into the loan documentation and initiate event of default in case the conditions are not met.

Venue Detail

Bank of America Merrill Lynch: King Edward Hall

King Edward Hall | 2 King Edward Street | London | EC1A 1HQ

Directions

Bank of America's offices are a very short walk from St Paul's tube station (Central Line). Exit the station at Cheapside/Newgate Street. Go past the BT centre, with it on your right-hand side and take the first available right down Edward Street. Continue down this road for 80m and the entrance to the venue is on your left-hand side.

Do not go to the main reception desk at their offices when you arrive. You are looking for an entrance that leads you directly into the King Edward Hall.
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