While your suppliers do not work directly under you, it's your business' responsibility to make sure your supply chain upholds good standards.
Ensuring your supply chain maintains high standards in terms of labour and the environment is important for several reasons. One is for encouraging loyalty from consumers and another is making sure your supply chain is not violating laws.
How do you go about checking the standards of your supply chain?
Firstly, you need to be clear to your suppliers about the standards they must follow. Put together an ethical trade programme that sets clear targets on the environment and labour standards, including your legal obligations.
Rolling it out can be tricky if you have a particularly large or complex supply chain. Try to do it in stages by working out which suppliers you should focus your efforts on first. Ultimately, however, you will need to cover all areas of your supply chain as one weak link could put the whole chain in trouble. Above all, if one of your suppliers fails to follow your terms on standards then you should not work together.
Have a risk management strategy
Work out how you are going to conduct risk assessments on your suppliers. Specialists will be able to offer you with tools to effectively measure risks of your supply chain and the country in which you are operating. Research the local area as much as possible and see if there is a history of labour rights violations. Sending a team of representatives to check standards on the ground maybe costly and a little old-fashioned but still one of the best ways to get a clear understanding of locational threats. Alternatively, make full use of video conferencing and real time tracking to get a better sense of what standard your supply chain is working to.
Collecting data, through such assessments, will allow you to cross check the information against the legal obligations in your country as well as in your suppliers' countries. Be aware that there may be some disparity on legal issues in terms of environment and labour depending on where you and your suppliers are from, so make sure you do your research
Be careful not to overburden yourself or your suppliers with audits as you may find that you are unable to keep up, or your suppliers become unresponsive because they do not have the resources.
It may be worth looking to organisations such as Sedex and encouraging your suppliers to get on board with them as well. This is to ensure transparent data sharing on supply chain standards and keeping the assessment process simple.
Transparancy is key to ensuring that your supply chain standards are as high as they can be, the KSF team are happy to talk you through our own methods of checking that standards of our supply chain.