Why corporate social responsibility is good for business
We have all witnessed horrific images of workers subjected to disgraceful employment conditions. We were aghast when more than 1,100 people died and over 2,500 were injured in the Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh, an event that brought about a massive change in supply chain management for global apparel players. So the questions is, what have your clients done about it?
What are your clients doing about CSR?
It goes without saying that today’s companies must take responsibility for their impact on communities and the environment. Working with Producto, you can be sure that we’ve taken our corporate social responsibility seriously and that each and every one of your clients can benefit from this, when you source your offshore merchandise from us.
CSR needs more than lip-service
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become a mainstream issue, which is great. The problem, though, is that for many companies, their CSR policy is just a tick-box process. In reality, being socially responsible is about going beyond your customer’s procurement requirements — it’s about doing the right thing. It was never intended to simply be a box to tick, but rather a way of doing business globally, a moral yardstick to be applied within the procurement process.
So what are the key ingredients of a solid CSR policy? It’s hard to be exact and simply issue a number of bullet points, but certainly the following should be considered:
Minimum employment age
Safety at work policies
When you partner with Producto in sourcing your goods offshore, rest assured that we audit all our suppliers against these measures. Use this knowledge to add value to your client offering, and differentiate you from other competitors. We go the extra mile, so you don’t have to. Click here to learn more about how we take our corporate social responsibility seriously.
When things turn pear shaped
In providing your clients with products that have been sourced responsibly, you are clearly helping them to achieve their corporate CSR goals, and to move beyond purely price based decision-making. Much more than that though, you are protecting them from things going pear-shaped. By declaring these safeguards and supplier checks within your proposals you create another reason to purchase from your company.
There are plenty of examples where a company’s perceived lack of social responsibility has had disastrous consequences. Recently an Australian sports brand took a huge PR hit over child labour claims. This same brand was also producing promotional items for large corporates, a situation that could easily have created quite a bit of collateral damage for those other brands, if linked.
Is that something you and your business could afford? I say “you and your business” because things tend to get very personal in matters like these. Directors and business owners take just as much of the heat as the business and the brand.
Doing due diligence
At Producto, we source many of our products from outside New Zealand. We have seen first-hand some appalling working conditions and as a consequence work very hard to make sure we never see those sights again. To give you an idea, once when visiting a factory in China, I asked to use the bathroom. There was no plumbing — the smell was so bad I thought my eyes were bleeding!
Like many companies we insist that any offshore suppliers complete an audit, but this usually only scratches the surface. We prefer a ‘feet on the ground’ approach, sending our local agent unannounced or even flying our own staff over to visit factories. For straight-up answers, there is no substitute for face to face contact. We ask our auditors to send back pictures from their visit, not simply tick boxes on a form.
As an additional safeguard, Producto is an active member of SEDEX, which has protocols in place that suppliers must meet. That’s not to say the system is perfect, but it’s an additional requirement we set for our suppliers.