VIEWS: Ethical Supply Chain Trends for 2007

VIEWS: Ethical Supply Chain Trends for 2007

The following predictions come from an article in the Responsible Sourcing blog, and while it didn't come straight from my own brain I can't agree more with their forecast.

Trend One: Supplier Ownership

More and more companies are looking to engage suppliers in creating sustainable improvements that will positively impact the lives and conditions of workers. To do so, brands and buyers are promoting the adoption of management systems that will help suppliers run more efficiently as well as manage social compliance issues in a planned and organized manner.

Trend Two: Collaboration

Brand and retailer initiatives continue to emerge with the goal of fostering collaborative approaches to responsible sourcing. Following in the footsteps of the Fair Labor Association and the Ethical Trading Initiative, there is also the Business Social Compliance Initiative in Europe, l'Initiative Clause Sociale in France, and CSC9000t in China. Some initiatives focus around sharing assessment results and working together to promote improvements in like-supply chains…[and] more and more stakeholder initiatives are emerging that are sector-specific, including the Electronics Industry Code of Conduct program, the Council for Responsible Jewelry Practices, and the Framework for Responsible Mining.

Trend Three: Convergence

As brands and retailers increasingly sign-up to these initiatives, we can hope for a converging of some of the many standards and programs into a few. The ETI, once thought of as a UK-based initiative, now boasts an increasing number of non-UK members, including the U.S.-based Gap, Inc. Many members of the ETI have chosen to adopt the ETI Base Code as the code of conduct used in their supply chains, in order to use an existing multi-stakeholder code that promotes the use of a common industry code. In fact, the Body Shop forewent their previously developed code to adopt the ETI code and promote the concept of a universal code of conduct. The Gap recently announced their intention to do the same.

The article has more examples (mostly from a UK perspective), and I highly recommend the whole thing. And stay tuned for another entry later this week on SSC's approach to supply chain management, where we'll explore how small and medium-size organizations can implement sustainable supply chains.