Supply chain ethics back in the limelight

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Supply chain ethics and sustainability may appear to have slipped down the agenda recently, as other issues have come to the fore.

However, they are back in the limelight following the news that the World Bank Institute is working with Sedex Global to develop Open Supply Chain Platform.

The aim is to fill a widening gap between those companies that have the knowledge, capacity and funds to afford open and collaborative behaviours, and those who don’t – notably SMEs.

It is promised that the Open Supply Chain Platform  will provide a free-to-use, global online platform for companies of all sizes to upload, share and track core information in areas of business ethics, labour standards, environmental footprints and governance practices.

“It is essential that we encourage the private sector to adopt open and collaborative behaviours that favour social, environmental and governance outcomes. That’s the purpose of our Open Private Sector Platform,” according to Benjamin Herzberg, program lead for Open Private Sector at the World Bank Institute.

Sedex, which has some 36,000 members worldwide and offers a collaborative platform for managing and sharing ethical supply chain data, will develop content for the platform.

Suppliers will be able to benchmark themselves against core international standards and provide guidance on areas of weakness, in turn enabling them to drive improvements and share information on performance with buyers. For buyers, the platform will inform sourcing decisions by enabling them to search for, and source goods and services from suppliers that demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of sustainability requirements and commitments.

This initiative reflects growing pressure on companies to address ethical and sustainability issues. Last month, the European Parliament adopted a directive that will force companies to disclose information on policies, risks and outcomes linked to environmental performance, social and employee-related aspects, respect for human rights, anti-corruption practices, bribery issues, and diversity.

Many large organisations, such as Marks & Spencer, Diageo and Unilever, are already members of the Sedex scheme. It remains to be seen if this new initiative can expand the network to that much larger group of small companies.

Malory Davies

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