Tag Archives: supply chain transparency

What To Do When Slavery Is Revealed In Your Supply-Chain

It’s the stuff of every CPO’s worst nightmare; finding evidence of slavery within their organisation’s supply-chain. Sadly, it’s probably more common than you think…

It’s relatively easy to turn a blind eye to modern slavery, particularly when it’s not happening on your own doorstep.

It’s also easy to assume that modern slavery isn’t a prevalent issue in today’s society.

But the stats don’t lie. The Global Slavery Index 2016, produced by the Walk Free Foundation, revealed that over 45 million people are estimated to be affected by modern slavery, more than in any other period in history.

58 per cent of those living in slavery are based in five countries:

  • India
  • China
  • Pakistan
  • Bangladesh
  • Uzbekistan

India, China, Pakistan and Bangladesh all provide low-skilled labour for industries such as food, production, textiles and technology. Uzbekistan is a major cotton exporter.

The Global Slavery Index, which resulted in 42,000 interviews spoken in 53 languages across 25 countries, helps governments, organisations and communities to stay focussed on eradicating modern slavery wherever and whenever it occurs.

Perhaps, given the overwhelming statistics, it’s a case of when, not if, modern slavery will be discovered within your supply chain.

So what do you do when it is?

Red Flags: What will you find?

Firstly, it’s important to understand and look for the red flags, which might be extremely subtle. The likelihood of modern slavery is increased in conflict zones and unregulated sectors, particularly if the jobs are low-income and do not require education or specific skills. Migrant workers, women and children are among the most vulnerable.

Circumstances when passports or identification documents have been removed, excessive recruitment fees are subjected upon migrant workers or subcontractors further outsource work without prior consent are all indicators of exploitation.

Encountering one of these situations may not in and of itself amount to modern slavery but your organisation mustn’t assess anything  in isolation. It’s important to look for the series of signals in order to  decipher whether they paint a clear picture of modern slavery.

Developing a Corrective Action Plan For Modern Slavery

Fiona David, Executive Director of Global Research for the Walk Free Foundation, has some words of guidance and reassurance “My first tip would be ‘don’t panic’.  We know that modern slavery exists in supply chains, so if you find it, you are looking in the right places. The issues that are identified will drive the response”.

Companies responding to modern slavery should develop a corrective action plan based on two fundamental priorities:

  1. The first is short term priority; immediately protecting the victims involved in order to end the abuse
  2. The second is the long term priority.  Companies must find solutions to eradicate the underlying problem which allowed modern slavery to exist in the first place. This may require fundamental shifts in business models or the nature of supplier relationships

These two priorities should underpin every company policy, which should be focused on finding solutions rather than punishments. Critically, those within the organisation and supply-chain must feel safe and confident to speak up, and not fear punishment or recrimination.

Advice from the Walk Free Foundation

  • Be open about what you’ve found: “Companies such as Marks and Spencer, Nike and Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group have all been open about risks identified and violations.”
  • Collaboration is key: Fiona is keen to remind organisations that “no one company can address [modern slavery] in isolation.” Organisations must collaborate with suppliers, competitors in the sector, governments, NGOs, and civil society.
  • Does your organisation have a part to play? Perhaps the culture within your organisation has fuelled the occurrences of modern slavery within your supply chain. Maybe you’re applying unrealistic pressures and time frames? This could be inadvertently encouraging suppliers to use unreliable operators resulting in excessive working hours or under unacceptable work practices.
  • Grievance Mechanisms:These are a formal way for workers to lodge complaints and resolve working condition problems. As well as improving employee satisfaction and productivity, these are crucial in safe guarding workers’ rights. Safe helplines or whistle-blowing procedures must, Fiona explains,  “be freely accessible in appropriate languages, regions and throughout your supply chain, without fear of recrimination.”

What not to do

It might have crossed your mind that an easy solution to tackling, or simply avoiding, modern slavery in your supply-chain would be to pull out entirely from high-risk countries.

Removing Bangladesh, for example, from your supply-chain could be a quick solution to a complicated problem, right?

Wrong!

Communities in countries with high proportions of modern slavery are in desperate need of the economic opportunities your organisation provides. Taking your business elsewhere would only worsen the situation.

Fiona explains the importance of global supply chains because they “create employment and other opportunities for economic and social development, and pathways to help those break the cycles of poverty.” Similarly “immediately terminating supplier relationships is often not the right answer because it can drive the issue further underground.”

The correct, and most socially aware, response is to continue sourcing from these high-risk countries whilst ensuring you have credible audits and systems in place to address any potential problems.

Fiona also makes the important point that “Modern slavery occurs in every country whether developed or under-developed” and so it cannot be avoided simply by vetoing certain countries.  “A recent case found Hungarian workers being exploited in conditions described as ‘modern slave labour’ in a factory in Yorkshire, England.  This factory produced beds, which were supplied to British high street retailers such as John Lewis and NEXT. ”

Procurement needs to share the work load

“Procurement teams are on the frontline,” Fiona asserts. “They manage supplier relationships, they understand the business, the risks and the regions in which they operate. The indicators of modern slavery, being a grievous crime, is actually quite easy to identify, when you know what you are looking for.”

But advocacy groups and investigative reporters mustn’t be the sole figures doing the digging to reveal incidents of modern slavery.

“CSR and Procurement teams should work together across the sectors on these issues, as addressing modern slavery is a “pre-competitive” issue.  Companies can’t compete on sub-standard ethical and criminal practices.”

Searching for modern slavery within your organisation and acknowledging its presence might be one of the tougher pills to swallow but any CPO with a conscience would prefer to reveal and address it head-on. Surely that’s better than burying heads in the sand?

And, as Fiona reminds us “Not only is it the right thing to do morally, but it is also legally required. With laws in the UK, EU and US and debates in Australia about whether to adopt equivalent laws, increasingly it is no longer a voluntary issue, businesses must look at these issues and report on them.”

Fiona David, Executive Director of Global Research,  Walk Free Foundation, will be delivering a keynote speech at PIVOT: The Faculty’s 10th Annual Asia Pacific CPO Forum.

Transparency: Is Your Supply-Chain Crystal Clear?

Organisations are under increasing pressure to improve on supply-chain transparency but meeting these demands is easier said than done…

Improving supply chain transparency is a high priority for companies, especially in industries such as foodservice where consumers and regulators are pushing for more publicly available information on how products are made and delivered. Increasing product complexity—growing demand for organic and gluten-free foods, for example—as well as food safety and security concerns, continues to drive the demand for more transparency.

How Can Organisations Meet These Demands?

Responding to these demands is no easy task. The fragmented nature of the supply chain can make it difficult to achieve the kind of consensus that is needed to create efficient, end-to-end monitoring systems. However, as the industry responds to the need for more transparency, there is a huge opportunity to take a leadership position. Key to developing the level of transparency that is now expected is changing the behavior of stakeholders and harnessing the power of data visualization technology to present abundant data in easily understood and actionable formats. With these changes in place the industry can open the way to innovations that could take supply chain performance to a new level. Moreover, the journey provides some valuable lessons for other industries that are striving to meet market demand for increased supply chain transparency.

Companies in the foodservice industry sell food that is prepared and served in venues outside the home (the most familiar outlet is restaurants). A complex supply chain that stretches from agricultural growers across the globe to end consumers supports each restaurant. The supply chain also includes manufacturers, freight carriers, forward warehouses, distribution centers (DCs) and third-party logistics providers (3PLs). Many of these players tend to operate in silos that can impede the end-to-end flow of information.

What Challenges Does Data Present?

Data latency represents one of the most difficult hurdles. For example, some trading partners share daily inventory and sales information in single, large batches; by the time the data is uploaded into supply chain visibility tools, it may be too old in “food time.”

The veracity of data is another challenge. There are many reasons why inaccuracies creep into supply chain data streams. An overarching problem is a lack of widely adopted, consistent standards for exchanging data. There are also various operational issues to contend with. An example is the reuse of product numbers and warehouse identifiers without alerting trading partners to such changes.

Untimely or inaccurate data is always an issue, but particularly in today’s highly variable consumer environment. Demand for food products can be unusually volatile because shifting consumer preferences influences it. Some peaks in demand—for example, when a restaurant dish suddenly becomes popular because a celebrity tweets about it—are almost impossible to anticipate.

Industry Fragmentation

The industry fragmentation described above compounds such problems. In a fragmented environment, trading partners tend to optimize locally. For example, a DC might build safety stock of a critical product for a favored restaurant chain that is not visible to other players. Unseen inventories scattered across a supply chain cause significant inefficiencies.

Add the dramatic increase in the volume of data to the mix, and it becomes clear that operational models have opportunities to improve before the industry can deliver the levels of supply chain transparency that are expected in today’s world. These changes are within reach—and many are being implemented.

Changing behaviours to tackle supply chain transparency

One of the first steps to overcoming these problems is to change the behaviors that cause data errors and latency.

For example, Armada, a Pittsburgh-based fourth-party logistics provider (4PL) to the foodservice and retail industries, is working with DCs and other entities to make sure that the inventory and shipment data they provide is as near to real-time as possible. Huge improvements are possible by simply rethinking the way data is managed and shared, and by breaking down operational silos.

Changing stakeholder behavior lays the foundation for the new technology that drives greater supply chain transparency. At Armada, this emerging technological base has two key elements.

First, an integrated platform allows the company to receive data in multiple formats such as EDI. Second, Armada is working to fundamentally change the way this data is stored and accessed for clients and their network stakeholders. For example, the practice of generating reports from data stored on applications is no longer sufficient. Data warehousing and extraction as well as business intelligence capabilities are being built to support the high-volume information management systems that are now needed.

This is not cutting edge—but harnessing these capabilities to develop tailored visual displays of complex data represents new territory for foodservice supply chain practitioners.

Why traditional methods won’t do

Traditional methods of displaying and analyzing operational data through columns and rows aren’t enough if the goal is to redefine supply chain transparency. In addition, practitioners need faster, more effective ways to consume and use the large volumes of data now available. And it is likely that the flood of data will increase over the next few years.

Importantly, much of this data needs to be configured for mobile technology platforms that are growing in importance. An example of an innovative display format is an “items at risk” dashboard that shows when items in specific DCs are reaching stock-out levels based on lead times.

These are exciting innovations, and the industry is only at the beginning of this journey. For instance, there is huge potential for developing more advanced analytics. The ultimate analytical goal is to develop systems that automatically identify potential problems and trigger remedial action.

Consider, for example, a case where the “items at risk” screen shows that an item is nearing an out-of-stock situation. The system automatically initiates a transfer order from a DC that it identified as a source of additional stock. The DC is notified, and the order approved without having to engage unwieldy manual procedures. Moreover, the system issues alerts and updates to designated managers via their mobile devices.

This article was originally published on Supply Chain MIT  via the ThomasNet Blog

Resistance Is Futile, Disruption Is Coming!

Massive changes are coming to procurement pros, whether they like it or not! Is it high time we started embracing, instead of resisting, them?

Mark Stevenson is one man who understands the key trends heading our way. An expert on global trends and innovation, he will be setting the scene with our opening keynote at the Big Ideas Summit 2017 in London.  We caught up with Mark ahead of the event to get to know him a little better!

Tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m an entrepreneur, an author, an occasional comedy writer, a musician, and, as some people like to define me, a futurologist, but I’m not at all keen on that particular term.

What don’t you like about the term Futurologist?

I think it’s a fairly dodgy profession overall if I’m honest. There are no qualifications required and it’s often associated with prediction and, of course, you can’t really predict the future, you can only make it. Also people who identify themselves as future-experts are as apt to be shaped by the culture in which they are embedded or dogged by their own prejudices and wish-lists as the rest of us, and tend to predict accordingly. For instance many futurologists are overly tech focused. My work is more about the questions the future asks us about the interplay of technology, economics, society and politics. My job is to help people and organisations to ask the right questions about the future and then convince them to answer those questions in a way that makes the world more sustainable, humane, compassionate and just.

 What are the key challenges procurement and supply chains face in the next decade?

Supply chain issues are hugely important at the moment and supply chain professionals are having a lot of questions asked of them.

The first challenge to overcome is achieving greater supply chain transparency. Plenty of procurement professionals, particularly in larger organisations, have no clue where they are actually buying from. When the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh collapsed in 2013 killing over 1,000 factory workers, many high-street brands were called out and, it materialised, ignorant of their involvement. Tragedies like this have forced high street companies to better audit their supply chains but there’s still a long way to go.

Secondly, organisations need to make their supply chains more sustainable by adopting science-based targets – addressing agricultural sustainability and reducing carbon emissions to give a couple of examples.

You’ve often advocated science-based targets in the past. Could you explain the concept in more detail? How could procurement apply these targets?

Science-based targets are a really simple idea and a very good way to think about sustainability. When it comes to dealing with environmental sustainability companies tend to say ‘this is what we can do, this is what we’re aiming for’ but, in reality, it doesn’t mean a whole lot when a multinational organisation vows to reduce its carbon emissions by 10% by the year 2034! That’s a recipe for planetary disaster.

Instead, organisations must figure out what they have to do based on scientific facts. The Science Based Targets campaign (a partnership between

Carbon Disclosuse Project, UN Global Compact, World Resources Institute and WWF) helps companies determine how much they must cut emissions to prevent the worst impacts of climate change. Coca- Cola, Walmart and HP signed up to this and if they can do it, anyone can.

And, by saving the world you’re also saving your business. Companies who take this stuff seriously will out-perform because they’ll become more efficient and they’ll attract the most forward-thinking, young talent who want to work for companies of which they are unashamed.

In your experience, how open are organisations to new technology trends?

Not very! Organisations tend to be comfortable operating as they always have done.

Upton Sinclair put it well: ‘It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.’ Take Blockchain, it could take away the untrustworthy parts of banking: bankers, who will naturally resist this particular technology!

Another example is driverless tech- it doesn’t take an expert to predict that the 3.5 million US truck drivers would be wary of such an advancement – and rightly so. So we have to find a transition plan for them – which culture resists. But it’s a business responsibility to prepare for the changes and approaching transitions, you have a duty of care to your employees and not being future-literate is a dereliction of that duty. Remember, Blockbuster, the DVD rental company went bust the same week that Netflix released House of Cards.

If you had one key message for our delegates at Big Ideas, what would it be?

Wherever you work and wherever you end up in the next 15-20 years, remember that it’s going to be a very turbulent time. Massive disruption lies ahead and the bad news is that our current institutions and businesses are unfit for purpose. Ask yourself: what’s my best effort for myself, my family and for society (and remember they’re all related). If you don’t, you can prepare to be very irrelevant and very unhappy!

Join the conversation and register as a digital delegate for Big Ideas 2017

Supply Chain Review Pressure Following Chicken Scare

Public confidence in supermarkets and their supply chains has taken another hit, following a scare about contaminated chicken.

chicken

A recent report has found that one in four chicken samples bought from major supermarket chains contain antibiotic-resistant E.coli. The findings are again putting pressure on supermarkets to tighten their supply chain quality assurance processes.

While supermarkets have worked hard to improve supply chain traceability, this report shows there is much work to be done. It also serves to highlight a wider issue in the food supply chain – the use of antibiotics.

There is on-going criticism about the overuse of antibiotics by humans, but use of the drugs on livestock is contributing to increased resistance to antibiotics by so-called “super-bugs”.

Issues Raised in Chicken Testing

The study of chicken samples was carried out by the University of Cambridge. It revealed that from 92 chicken pieces, including whole chicken, thigh pieces, drumsticks and diced breast meat, 22 pieces contained potentially deadly bacteria.

The “superbug” strain of E.coli was found in chicken samples from all leading UK supermarkets, including Tesco, Waitrose, Aldi and Morrisons. Similar strains were found in supermarket pork samples tested in the same study.

The findings raise concerns about the quality of factory farming in the UK, as well as the end-to-end supply chains of the big retailers.

Dr. Mark Holmes, part of the research team that conducted the study, suggested that more resources needed to be put into assessment of antibiotic resistance in animals in the supply chain.

“These results highlight the need for improvements in antibiotic stewardship in veterinary medicine,” Holmes said. “The levels of resistant E.coli that we have found are worrying. Every time someone falls ill, instead of just getting a food poisoning bug they might also be getting a bug that is antibiotic resistant.”

Supply Chain Quality Assurance

Quality control software experts InfinityQS suggest that, while the supermarkets themselves might argue that their quality assurances are sound, the findings suggest this is not the case.

“It’s clear that a disconnect exists across these supermarkets’ supply chains. It’s likely they’ll have stringent procedures in place for their own food traceability, but it’s imperative these are adhered to amongst their suppliers.”

The company suggested that closer relationships with both suppliers and farmers was necessary. This could mean a more pro-active approach to site visits to where they source food from, and understand how they could help farmers to make improvements.

“An effective supply chain process will ensure that controls are in place to manage the necessary people, activities, resources and data throughout the supply chain.

“If done correctly, that product will be delivered with the correct documents, with an agreed quantity, adhering to a set quality standard and all sent at the right time to the right place.”

Antibiotic Overuse Creating Resistance 

The report also serves to highlight the wider issue of overuse of antibiotics in humans and animals. As well as depleting global supplies of antibiotics, systematic overuse is creating resistant strains of potentially deadly bacteria, including E.coli.

It’s predicted that, by 2050, one person will die every 3 seconds around the world from antibiotic resistant bacteria. Globally, 70 per cent of bacteria have now developed antibiotic resistance, including to traditionally ‘last line of defence’ treatment.

It’s estimated that around 40 per cent of antibiotic use in the UK is for animals in the food supply chain. The drugs are frequently given to large groups of completely healthy animals, with the intention of stopping the spread of infections. Mass medication accounts for an estimated 90 per cent of all animal antibiotic use in the UK.

Intensive farming practices, and keeping large groups of animals in close quarters, is to blame for such practices. In such crowded conditions, even one unhealthy animal can have devastating consequences.

However, as farming practices change, and retailers aim to ensure higher animal welfares standards, this issue may be lessened. Retailers have also been urged to pay a higher price for meat such as chicken and pork. This would relieve productivity pressures on farmers, and reduce intensive farming too.

Will this change your dietary habits? How can procurement get more involved in changing the underlying issues? Let us know in the comments below.

careerbootcamp-logo-final

Career Boot Camp Reminder!

The Procurious Career Boot Camp kicks off in earnest this morning with the release of our first podcast! Today, as well as every day for the next 15 work days, we’ll be releasing a podcast at 9:30am (BST).

You can access everything you need to enlist for Career Boot Camp here. If you have any questions, read this, or get in touch.

We’ve been on the look out for all the top stories in procurement and supply chain this week. And here they are…

Bailout Rejection Makes Hanjin Liquidation Likely

  • The chances of a bailout for stricken shipping company Hanjin look unlikely, increasing the possibility of liquidation.
  • The bailout was needed to help the company combat $5.4 billion debts, and allow it to unload cargo at ports.
  • However, with decisions still to be made, the South Korean Government criticised the company for “economic irresponsibility”.
  • The company is conducting sales fund the release of $14 million worth of stock currently stuck on its cargo ships.

Read more at Supply Chain Dive

Sewing Robots to Join Garment Workforce

  • A company called Sewbo has developed a robot that can sew, and intends to replace humans in the garment manufacturing process.
  • The machine uses stiffened, pre-cut garment pieces and feeds them into a sewing machine, before dropping the completed garment into hot water to remove the non-toxic stiffener.
  • Automated clothing production provides a potential solution to labour abuses and sweat-shop conditions in the developing world.
  • However, large-scale automation would also put millions of people in the garment industry out of work.

Read more and watch the video at Engadget

Study Says Petrol Must Be Phased Out by 2035

  • According to a Climate Action Tracker report, the last petrol powered car will have to be sold by 2035 to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
  • A ceiling of 1.5 degrees was the most stringent goal set by world leaders at the Paris summit last December.
  • Current projections suggest that electric vehicles will make up only 5 per cent of the world’s car fleets by 2030
  • This means aggressive measures will be required to shift rapidly away from fossil-fuel powered vehicles much earlier than expected.

Read more at Fortune

“Poor Procurement” To Blame For Detention Centre Cost Blowout

  • Australia’s scandal-ridden offshore detention centres for asylum seekers have come under intense scrutiny once again.
  • An audit of the centres revealed “serious and persistent deficiencies” in the relevant department’s management of the contracts.
  • It identified failures in the open tender process for security, cleaning, catering and welfare services, with costs blowing out from a $351 million contract in 2012, to a current $2.2 billion contract.
  • The report also criticised the original open tender process, and negotiations that took place with suppliers in 2012.

Read more at The Guardian

How Blockchain Technology Can Revolutionise Procurement & Supply Chain

Blockchain technology could prove to be a valuable tool for procurement and supply chains in their quest for transparency.

Blockchain Technology

In today’s world, the process of procurement, and even supply chain management, is facing more scrutiny than ever before.

Due to several different advances in technology (many of which relate more to our personal lives than business management), people are more sensitive than ever to issues of accuracy and matters of record. We want transactions verified, sources authenticated, and, generally, transparency in all things.

Where procurement and supply chain management are concerned, that level of transparency has been pretty much impossible in years past. However, there are some that believe that Bitcoin’s blockchain technology, of all things, has vast potential to alter how procurement is monitored and could improve accountability on all sides.

Blockchain Explained

For those who may be unfamiliar with how blockchain technology works, this overview of Bitcoin explains that it’s essentially a public ledger on which all Bitcoin transactions are recorded.

Every transaction generates a series of letters and numbers indicating the two parties involved and the amount of Bitcoin exchanged. While specific identities are protected, it makes it absolutely, automatically clear where your Bitcoin came from, such that amounts of Bitcoin can be traced back through various transactions.

It’s basically a fool-proof system of transparency meant to guarantee the authenticity of these transactions.

Supply Chain Transparency

But how exactly would such a system help companies dealing with procurement and supply chain concerns?

This explanation clarifies the idea in a very effective manner, stating that a blockchain can track what went into a product, and who handled it along the way, revealing the provenance of a product to everyone involved, from origin to end user.

The article uses the example of a taco supply chain. When you buy a taco from a food truck you’re making a lot of trusting assumptions: that the truck is sanitary, that the taco’s ingredients are fresh, etc. But with a system of transparency in place you can personally check that those assumptions are indeed based in reality.

Considering that example with a product in the process of procurement, you begin to see the immense potential value of a blockchain.

Authenticity Checks

Indeed, the same article discusses a range of examples covering different industries and points of interest along the supply chain. For instance, you might be able to look at a blockchain-style log and determine if a shirt you might buy was made with child labor, or you might see if a bottle of olive oil is just olive oil, and if so where else in the world it might be procured. You might even be able to confirm the authenticity of an antique or special product before purchasing.

Perhaps the most interesting example, however, comes in the form of a new company that’s arisen as a result of the blockchain to combat fraud and crime in the diamond trade.

Everledger is essentially building a vast data network, tracking diamonds in circulation by their identifying features and serial codes, and thus legitimising an industry that’s frequently been overrun by criminals and fraudulent transactions.

With a public ledger, diamonds could be traced back to their origins, appropriate values could be maintained, and selling a stolen diamond without being on record as doing so, would be all but impossible.

At this stage most of these examples concern consumer issues and supply chain transparency. However, as blockchain technology becomes more common, it’s easy to see its potential aspects in procurement as well.

For a technology that’s fundamentally simple, it’s somewhat amazing that it might solve transparency issues that have persisted in business transactions for most of human history.

Modern Slavery Act 2015: Supply Chain Transparency Requirements

In October 2015, the UK government issued statutory guidance relating to supply chain transparency and reporting obligations of the Modern Slavery Act 2015.

Modern Slavery Act

This article was first published on Greenstone.

The document confirms who is required to comply and when they need to comply by, as well as including essential details on the all-important annual statement. You can read the document here.

Here is everything you need to know and what you need to do.

Background

Consolidating UK law on slavery and human trafficking, the Modern Slavery Bill was first introduced to parliament on 10th June 2014, and subsequently passed into law on 26th March 2015.

With the aim of preventing employment exploitation and increasing disclosure of labour practices, the Modern Slavery Act introduces new grounds of compliance for commercial entities. Not only do organisations need to ensure that modern slavery is not an issue in-house, they also need to take, and report on, actions to prevent the issue from occurring within their supply chains.

Which Companies are Captured?

The threshold to determine which companies have to adhere to the Modern Slavery Act has been something of a discussion point for the vast majority of the year.

Following a government consultation period earlier in the year, it was confirmed that the Act applies to any organisation that supplies goods or services and that has a turnover exceeding £36 million, aligning the legislation with the definition of a ‘large business’ in the Companies Act 2006.

Furthermore, this threshold is valid for any organisation that has operations in the UK, regardless of where it was formed. This means that many non-UK organisations, providing goods or services within the UK’s geographical boundaries, will have to engage with their suppliers, essentially resulting in diverse, complex and global supply chains being assessed.

Annual Statements

A key part of the Modern Slavery Act is the stipulation that captured organisations need to prepare and publish an annual statement. The statement details the ongoing process they are taking to ensure that there is no modern slavery within their business and supply chains.

To be published at the end of the organisation’s financial year, and required to be approved at board level, the statement must be publicly available via a prominent link on the company’s corporate website homepage.

What does the statement need to look like?

There are 2 routes that organisations can go down when it comes to preparing the slavery and human trafficking statement. Captured organisations must prepare and publish either:

  1. A statement detailing steps the organisation has taken during the financial year to ensure that slavery and human trafficking is not taking place in any part of its own business or supply chains; or
  2. A statement that the organisation has taken no such steps.

Although Option 2 is the simpler journey, having a publicly available statement that effectively says that the organisation does not care about the issue of modern slavery risks a backlash from stakeholders. As such, the safest route to compliance is certainly the first.

In terms of what the annual statement needs to looks like, the Act does not stipulate the exact parameters, but does provide some key areas that should be covered:

  • the organisation’s structure, its business and its supply chains;
  • its policies in relation to slavery and human trafficking;
  • its due diligence processes in relation to slavery and human trafficking in its business and supply chains;
  • the parts of its business and supply chains where there is a risk of slavery and human trafficking taking place, and the steps it has taken to assess and manage that risk;
  • its effectiveness in ensuring that slavery and human trafficking is not taking place in its business or supply chains, measured against such performance indicators as it considers appropriate;
  • the training about slavery and human trafficking available to its staff.

What do captured organisations need to do?

The statutory guidance confirmed that the supply chain transparency and reporting provisions of the Modern Slavery Act commenced on 29th October 2015.

However, a transitional period applies to businesses with a financial year-end date between 29th October 2015 and 30th March 2016, meaning those who have a year-end of 31st March 2016 will be the first to publish the statement.

So what should companies be doing to prepare for these new supply-chain requirements? Regardless of when the year-end date is, it is imperative that organisations start engaging with their suppliers now and assess the level of risk. Without an extensive, and ongoing, information gathering exercise, taking steps to prevent the risk and subsequently reporting on them is simply not possible.

Where to start

As it is now a requirement for companies to collect and interrogate data from across their web of suppliers, it is essential that they make the process as efficient as possible.

We understand that this can be a complex and time-consuming process. The traditional offline data collection methods are not suited to the demands of today’s globalised supply chains. As such, it is an increasing trend for companies to move the process online.

For advice on what you need to consider when moving your supplier risk and compliance process online, please read our previous blog article on the subject.

Gyles is Head of SupplierPortal at Greenstone, a non-financial reporting solutions company providing software and supporting services to clients in over 100 countries.

Greenstone’s SupplierPortal solution enables buyers to effectively manage supplier risk and compliance through a secure and private online platform. Buyers have the flexibility to distribute standard framework questionnaires, as well as proprietary questionnaires, to their suppliers and can then manage and analyse this information through a comprehensive suite of analytical tools.

Curbing Public Procurement Fraud in Africa

Are we making any progress curbing public procurement fraud in Africa?  The consensus seems to be very little, although there are pockets of not quite excellence, but at least some promise.

Public Procurement Fraud

The Anti-corruption Agencies

10 years ago the World Bank reviewed the activities of anti-corruption agencies active in Africa and came to the conclusion that they were not particularly effective, despite some significant funding.  They concluded that African governments, in general:

  • lack the know-how or the political will to control corruption and procurement fraud
  • want just to be seen to be taking some action, however ineffectual it is in practice

In reality, if a study was undertaken today, the results would be about the same. This is despite efforts by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Transparency International (TI) and Corruption Watch and others.

TI’s arm in Ghana, GII, says that their “vision is to make Ghana a corruption-free country in all spheres of human endeavour, where people and institutions act with integrity, accountability and transparency”.  Worthy sentiments, but is it just rhetoric?

The OECD tells us that “public procurement remains the government activity most vulnerable to waste, fraud and corruption due to the size of the financial flows involved”.  On average, 12-15 per cent of a country’s GDP is spent on public procurement. Some of this is wasted. However, there are no reliable statistics of how much money is lost to procurement fraud and corruption across Africa, as much of it goes unreported.

Kenya’s Procurement Woes

Despite an active but bureaucratic watchdog in Kenya: The Public Procurement Oversight Authority (PPOA), public procurement fraud and collusion in tenders is alive and well, and some say endemic. Many of the reported high value failures are in transport and logistics including railways and ports, and particularly in education.

PPOA has as its tag line “transforming procurement”. It has a laundry list of tender appeals awaiting attention and looks like it is losing the battle. Ask Haier Electrical or Hewlett Packard who together won a case against the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology in 2014 involving a project of more than US$400 million.

PwC says in a newly published report that one in every three Kenyan business leaders reported procurement-related fraud in the past two years, making it the most common type of economic crime in the country. The report faults Kenya’s procurement processes as not being robust enough to guarantee integrity at all levels.

The Politics of Preference – Women, Youth and Local Sourcing 

There is growing disquiet about preferential procurement rules and guidelines like those legislated in countries such as Nigeria.  The Nigerian government wants to help the local economy by developing emerging businesses, but new legislation on local sourcing may have the opposite effect if it is prescriptive.  Will “Made in Nigeria” allow suppliers to charge more for inferior products and services and will government buyers somehow be tempted to offer guarantees – for a fee or other benefit?

Initiatives being taken to tackle the scourge

The World Bank’s new procurement framework will allow it to better respond to the needs of client countries in Africa, while preserving robust procurement standards throughout Bank-supported projects. Since they have a portfolio of about US$42 billion in over 1,800 projects in 172 countries, this is significant.

There’s also some good news coming out of South Africa.  The Chief Procurement Officer, Kenneth Brown, has kept a low profile. Behind the scenes, his team are quietly reviewing all tenders over R10m for compliance to the rules and are looking for opportunities for cost savings.

On an expenditure of R500 billion annually, its target of savings of R25 billion looks achievable.

The State’s fragmented spending practices are now being centralised to reduce waste and get more leverage through technology. They have set their sights on some key categories: travel at R10 billion per annum, ICT, construction and leases.

The new online eTenders portal launches in April 2016 with a modest maintenance cost of just R16,000 a month. It introduces much needed transparency and will save a staggering R400 million a year that the government spends on advertising the tenders in newspapers.

Australian Shines Spotlight on Unethical Supply Chains

Australian fashion brands are bearing the brunt of increasing unwanted attention for unethical supply chains.

Fashion Unethical Supply Chains

No-one wants to talk about it. But if you’re working in procurement for the fashion industry, you’re in the hot seat.

Fuelled by consumers’ love affair for fast fashion, the fashion industry is finding ways to produce faster and cheaper apparel than ever before. The latest example of this is Kmart and Target producing school uniforms for $2 an item, in a marketing campaign that made recent headlines for all the wrong reasons, given that factory workers are paid below levels that can cover basic living expenses.

The broader industry is digging its own grave, and, in years to come, the fast fashion industry will cease to exist, warns an Australian fashion industry authority who has worked on both sides of the fence.

A Different Way to Do Fashion

Catherine van der Meulen (formally Taouk) worked her way up in her father’s teen, fast fashion brand SUPRÉ for 15 years, which specialises in mass-produced, cheap fashion. During those years, the potential issues of unethical supply chains never crossed her mind.

She’s since realised the error of her ways, designing the Raw to Store movement to educate businesses about the spectrum of impacts generated by the fashion industry globally.

“Since leaving SUPRÉ, I’ve realised that there’s another way to do business, and it’s not this ruthless, cut everyone down to make money style of business that’s operating in the fashion world today,” van der Meulen says.

“I wish I’d have known back then what I know now about ethical fashion and conscious capitalism in my days at SUPRÉ. I wish I knew that the impact of our decisions can have a negative impact on others without me even knowing it.”

Raising Awareness

But she’s making up for lost time. Late last year, van den Meulen landed the role as head of corporate sustainability at Clean Cut Fashion – Australia’s industry body for ethical and sustainable practice. The organisation connects Australia to the global sustainable fashion movement and encourages national retailers to be more mindful of their supply chain.

She has only been in the role a few months, and is starting by raising awareness and contacting the industry’s worst offenders in search of a commitment.

“I’m starting with exemplifying the ones that are doing well in creating positive impact in the industry. We want to empower the great work of the brands that are committed to change and use that to teach other brands,” she says.

Issues associated with unethical supply chains include building an entire brand on an unsustainable business model, bad publicity, consumers turning to social media to vent about brands doing the wrong thing and, of course, knowing that you’re paying workers less than they need to live on in their own countries.

Collective Responsibility

Cath-van-den-Meulen - Unethical supply chains

Cath van den Meulen

“It’s my job to look at the supply chain of these fashion brands here in Australia and open up discussions around what’s being done to improve the processes. There’s plenty of room for improvement out there. But there’s generational corporate resistance to work through,” says van den Meulen.

She hopes to bring about change among Australian fashion brands that rely on mass sales by producing ‘loss leaders’ (extremely cheap items that are highly publicised), which are commonly mass-produced in unethical supply chains and manufacturing establishments in third world countries, she says.

To highlight the sheer size of the issue of unethical supply chains in Australia, she points to the Australian Fashion Report prepared by Baptist World Aid Australia, which last year named and shamed Australian fashion brands that haven’t cleaned up their supply chain or protected workers overseas.

The report was released two years after the fatal Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh, which saw the lives of 1,129 factory workers die. This event has put a black mark against the collective fashion industry, and van der Meulen says everyone needs to take responsibility.

Australian Offenders

The Baptist report named iconic Australian fashion brands as worst performers, such as the Just Group (owner of Just Jeans, Jay Jays, Dotti, Peter Alexander and Portmans), fast retail brands like Ally, Valley Girl, Temt and Industrie, and low cost suppliers like Lowes and Best & Less.

These companies each received D or F grades because there was little evidence they were doing much, if anything, to protect workers overseas. Many had little or no publicly available information and/or didn’t respond to requests to engage with the research process.

Oxfam Australia also released a report late last year naming the Australian brands dodging workers’ rights. The report named Best & Less as making the least progress of all the companies Oxfam has been engaging and assessing. The Just Group was also named in the report as another company sourcing from Bangladesh, which has so far refused to sign the Fire and Safety Accord.

“The truth is that you can create a profitable and sustainable business model while also doing the right thing as a corporate citizen. And yet there’s so much toxic fashion out there that consumers can purchase clothing for the price of a coffee is utterly obscene. Everyone needs to take responsibility for there to be change.”

Procurement – Authentic and Transparent

And while almost impossible to put a figure on the cost of cleaning up unethical supply chains, she recommends that procurement professionals approach this mammoth task in an authentic and transparent way.

Procurement professionals need to take responsibility for what’s happening further down the supply chain, starting with an independent audit to uncover and document the issues, she says.

“Where the cotton is from that you’re using, for example, can have one of the biggest impacts on the cotton industry globally. These are questions procurement people should be asking that demand answers.”

“I recommend that fashion brands start out by doing the B Corp assessment, which take just 90 minutes and gives you a rating out of 200 to see where you stand today,” she says.

Next, work out where you can make the most impact within your supply chain, and commit to starting an improvement program.

“Just focus on one thing that will improve your supply chain by 1 per cent this year. This could include improving energy consumption or waste water, changing suppliers, or sourcing more ethically produced products,” van der Meulen says.

Fast Fashion, The Supply Chain and The True Cost

Fast fashion helps sate deeply held desires among young consumers in the industrialised world for luxury fashion, even if it embodies unsustainability.

Fast Fashion

Trends run their course at high speed, with today’s latest styles swiftly trumping yesterday’s, which have already been consigned to the waste bin. Fast fashion has allowed for the constant supply of fashion trends, captured straight from the catwalk, at a cheap price.

What is ‘The True Cost’ of Fast Fashion?

The True Cost movie is a 2015 documentary that focuses on fast fashion and the supply chain. The documentary discusses several aspects of the garment industry from production – exploring the life of low wage workers in developing countries – to its after-effects of river and soil pollution, pesticide contamination, disease and death.

The True Cost is a collage of interviews with environmentalists, garment workers, factory owners, and fair trade companies and organisations, promoting sustainable clothing production.

Lucy Siegle is an author, journalist and Executive Producer of The True Cost. Her research into the fashion supply chain lifted the lid on the pollution and blind exploitation, inspiring her book To Die For. The deeper she dived into the fashion supply chain, the bigger the story became.

In an interview for The True Cost, Siegle comments that the most surprising thing she discovered was how quickly a sustainable system can be undone and destroyed forever. She had discovered that most western buyers were using completely nonsensical calculations when they placed orders in first tier factories.

This meant that factories could not possibly complete the enormous orders that had been placed, and would turn to outsourcing. This was where sweatshop labour became the reality.

“I realised there were a number of flashpoints in the supply chain that were adding up to extreme exploitation and possible catastrophe and that this was a standard business model.”

Garment manufacturing is estimated to be a $3 trillion industry. Yet factory workers are subjected to poor working conditions, low salaries and minimal to no rights. The True Cost documents the events of the 2013 Savar Building, or Rana Plaza, disaster, when an eight-story commercial building collapsed, killing over 1,000 people.

The event sparked the investigation into fast fashion on a global scale.

The Supply Chain and Fast Fashion

There is pressure on the supply chain to manufacture garments quickly and inexpensively, allowing the mainstream consumer to buy current clothing styles at a lower price.

fast fashion and the supply chain

Fast fashion very quickly became disposable fashion, due to the relatively low costs needed to deliver designer products to the mass market. The consequences of the trend became noticeable through increased pollution from manufacturing of the clothes and the decay of synthetic fabric, poor workmanship, and the emphasis on brief trends rather than classic pieces.

Recently, Australian surfwear brands have been urged to publish a list of every factory used in their supply chain. This follows an investigation that revealed some garments being made for the Rip Curl brand had been manufactured in North Korea, where factory workers endured slave-like conditions.

Rip Curl claimed to have no knowledge of their garments being produced in North Korea, as the clothes were shipped to retail outlets and sold with a “made in China” logo on them.

Rip Curl blamed one of its subcontractors for the practice, stating this was a case of a supplier diverting part of their production order to an unauthorised subcontractor and country. This was done without their knowledge or consent, and in clear breach of supplier terms and policies.

Rip Curl and North Korea

After the 2013 Rana Plaza collapse in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Australian firms’ garment-sourcing policies came under intense scrutiny. More than 90 per cent of garments sold in Australia are estimated to be sourced from Asia, while a huge proportionate of Asian garment workers are women who are paid minimal or poverty wages.

The event promoted a number of global brands to speak openly about their CSR efforts. Lucy Siegle comments that Public Relations efforts around company CSR efforts are getting more sophisticated. However, in many case, the business models stay the same. This is a concern when the business model is based on furious expansion, and companies are investing in pilot schemes in new low-wage fashion production hubs.

The fast-changing and glamorous image of the fashion industry presented to consumers is the very aspect which poses significant challenges for supply chain professionals. Companies are increasingly opting for a similar supply chain network, allowing them to easily and quickly replenish and rotate stock, and align with local market trends.

Sourcing location is one of the biggest challenges posed in the fashion industry. Sourcing from further afield can bring lower costs, but results in visibility and traceability challenges. Sourcing close to key markets guarantees a fast response, but has much higher costs and capacity constraints.

Lucy Siegle and Big Ideas Summit 2016

Lucy Siegle - True Cost

Lucy Siegle is a key note speaker at the Big Ideas Summit 2016 powered by Procurious. She will be sharing her thoughts and experiences on the ethical supply chain and the true cost of doing business in the fashion industry and a number of other industries.

Want to know more about Big Ideas 2016? Then visit www.bigideassummit.com, join our Procurious group, and Tweet your thoughts and Big Ideas to us using #BigIdeas2016.

Don’t miss out on this truly excellent event and the chance to participate in discussions that will shape the future of the procurement profession. Get Involved, register today.

Modern Slavery Act Will Force SMEs to Step Up to the Plate

With new changes to the Modern Slavery Act coming into effect as of April 1st, we ask how much progress has been made since 2015?

Modern Slavery

At Procurious, we know it’s crucial to continue focusing on the issue of modern-day slavery, both with regard to tackling existing cases, and to encourage and applaud organisations who are making real efforts to end the practice world-wide.

Last week, it was reported that the majority of small firms are ignorant of the Modern Slavery Act and the impact that the law changes will have on them.

On the flip side, it was announced that the Building Research Establishment (BRE) are launching a standard to help businesses tackle risks around modern slavery.

As the Telegraph reports, with the modern slavery laws set to change again as of this April, ignorance is no longer an excuse.

Modern Slavery Act 2016

New UK legislation, effective from 1st April 2016, requires all businesses with a turnover of over £36 million to prove they have taken steps to remove slave and child labour from their supply chains.

It is currently estimated that between 21 and 39 million people worldwide are victims of modern slavery. The changes to the Modern Slavery Act 2015 will force big organisations to fully audit their supply chains.  

It is expected that, as larger companies begin to investigate suppliers throughout their supply chain, there will be a trickle down effect to smaller businesses, who will be expected to prove they are slavery-free.

Chris Ross, founder of J&K Ross, spoke with The Telegraph stating, “ultimately, big companies will not deal with firms of any size that they don’t feel safe with.” With this in mind, he has begun voluntarily auditing the supply chain of his safety equipment business, to ensure it is fully compliant.

CIPS have released guidelines to help companies below the £36 million threshold voluntarily comply with the act.

SMEs Unprepared

According to research released by The Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS), almost two thirds of SMEs are unaware of the Modern Slavery Act and the impact it has on them. The CIPS polled 263 SMEs.

Despite the changes only directly targeting larger businesses, it is expected that there will be a knock-on effect on SMEs. It is these smaller businesses that are particularly ignorant of how the amendments to the law this April will affect them.

Whilst acknowledging that smaller companies may not have access to the same resources as large organisations to tackle slavery, the report asserts that a number of simple measures can be put in place. These include the formation of partnerships between larger corporations and smaller SMEs.

David Noble, Group CEO of CIPS, asserted that, “Ultimately, modern slavery is not an issue confined to the supply chains of large multinational corporations. On the contrary, SMEs can often have long and complicated supply chains themselves.”

Despite many SMEs claiming to not have found any evidence of slavery or forced labour within their supply chains, it seems this is largely due to ignorance and lack of action. Of the SMEs surveyed, 67 per cent admitted to having never taken any steps to tackle the issue of forced labour, and 75 per cent said they would not know what to do if modern slavery was found in their supply chains.

New Standard to Assist Business

Nigel McKay, former procurement head at HS2, is launching a standard with the Building Research Establishment (BRE), which will assist businesses in tackling risks around modern slavery and other ethical labour issues within their supply chains.

The standard will cater to companies of all sizes, and be applicable across varying industry sectors for three tiers of companies – those with a turnover under £36 million, between £36 and £500 million, and those with turnovers of more than £500 million.

Shamir Ghumra, Associate Director, Head of Responsible Sourcing in the Centre for Sustainable Products at BRE, said that the organisation, “recognised that there is a need to strengthen some of [the work BRE has previously done in this area], and since then Modern Slavery Act has come out. It’s not just about how to comply with the Act, but looking at ethical labour issues as a whole.”

McKay believes that nowadays within procurement, people are more socially and ethically aware – “a lot of conversations are now around the social and ethical issues of procurement and how much good your pound does, not just how cheap something is.”

McKay is realistic about the scale of what they are trying to achieve, acknowledging that changing a company’s approach to its supply chain can can several years. He claimed that “Not every company will be able to do everything in the first year. It takes three, four or five years, to re-engineer a supply chain.”

With the law change effective as of last Friday, it won’t be long until SMEs feel the pressure to take action and start voluntarily assessing their supply chains.

We’ve been keeping up with other procurement news around the world, and have picked out the top headlines for you this week…

Ghana Approves Procurement Bill

  • The Public Procurement Amendment Bill 2015 has been passed by the Ghana’s parliament.
  • The bill will introduce a sustainable public procurement framework for contracting and electronic procurement, and will also bring about a more transparent and accountable procurement system.
  • The 2003 Public Procurement Act has been amended to improve public financial management, and now needs to be signed by Ghana President, John Dramani Mahama, to bring it into force.
  • 2003’s Public Procurement Act “exposed some administrative bottlenecks, delays and imbalances in the procurement structure,” the government statement added.

Read more at Supply Management

Brambles’ Sustainability Goals

  • Brambles, a global supply chain logistics company operating primarily through the CHEP and IFCO brands, has announced its Sustainability Goals for 2020.
  • The company’s goals focus on the most material aspects of the Group’s operations and are closely aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • Tom Gorman, Brambles’ CEO said “Brambles has made significant progress in delivering continual improvement through our sustainability objectives over the past five years.”
  • You can view the full details of the company’s 2020 goals here.

Read more at Supply Chain 24/7

Manufacturers Trying to Forge Disruptive Supply Relationships

  • Manufacturers operating in high-value sectors, such as the aerospace and automotive industries, are going all out to forge relationships with businesses in other sectors in order to secure a clear, competitive advantage.
  • These businesses are demonstrating how a bit of lateral thinking and a clear sense of what end users want can create some unlikely and yet productive partnerships.
  • It is now business critical to establish supply partnerships that will enable them to work together to innovate new products and services and bring them to market more quickly.
  • Of course, there are significant risks attached to such supplier collaboration relationships, which some businesses may be reluctant to establish.

Read more at Supply Chain Digital

World Bank Report on East Asian Cites

  • East Asian cities could create more than 7m new jobs each year if they boosted infrastructure and improved skills and the regulatory environment, claims a new World Bank report.
  • The report looks at how the world’s successful cities have achieved their growth. It found cities did best by perfecting existing skills rather than completely overhauling themselves.
  • East Asian cities have grown faster than anywhere else in the world in recent years and are likely to keep expanding.
  • The report said linking infrastructure investments with private sector needs, zeroing in on the skills gaps, and making sure private and public sector industries supported each other were all factors which led to cities becoming more competitive.

Read more at Supply Management