JLP Responsible Sourcing Part I: Introduction

Back in February, the John Lewis Partnership released the Responsible Sourcing Supplier Workbook that I’m betting was downloaded by most of you who knew about it, being the good little socially responsible citizens that you are, but not read – since you opened it up, saw that it was 80 full pages of dense material (as it wasn’t written in the Big – 5  take – a – six – page – white – paper – and – turn – it – into – a – twety – pager – by – using – lots – of – white – space – and – pictures style), and put it away for later when you had the time (which, of course, never materialized).

However, it’s too important to ignore – so I’m going to help you, dear reader, by summarizing the key points in a series of twelve short and to-the-point blog entries over the summer that cover the main points on a more-or-less section-by-section basis. Then, you’ll not only know what’s in the report, but what sections are key for your organization.

You can thank me by leaving a comment that states

  ( 1 ) how much you appreciate the educational focus of this blog and

  ( 2 ) that you hope to be able to continue reading it everyday* to tell my prospective sponsors that you really do exist (and that this is a valuable place to invest those community dollars) and that the ever-increasing bandwidth utilization reported by the hosting service I use isn’t just a figment of their imagination**). Furthermore, if you haven’t done so recently, you can fire off an e-mail and tell all if your colleagues about all the great blogs you read in, and around, the procurement and sourcing space and help us innovative bloggers prove that it is the blogs, and not the stale trade rags, that define where it’s at.

The JLP believes that responsible sourcing is about ensuring the people that make and supply the products they sell are treated fairly and with respect. This covers a number of issues, including how much they are paid, how long they work in a day, whether the workplace is safe, their ability to voice concerns to management, and the environment in which they work.

According to JLP, responsible sourcing is important because it’s good for your business and because it’s good for your relationships with customers. Contented workers are more productive (as evidenced by the included case study of a Sri Lankan garment manufacturer), unnecessary costs (from accidents, work stoppages, lower productivity, etc.) are reduced, risk to reputation is significantly reduced, and you have a much greater chance of meeting your customers’ expectations. (This last point is crucial when over 90% of consumers believe that retailers should ensure their products are manufactured in a fair and humane way.)

Furthermore, a responsible supplier adheres to a Code of Ethics and a responsible buyer insures that each of it’s supplier adheres to the Code. The JLP Code, which is a great start, states that:

Suppliers are expected to:

  • establish management systems for executing compliance
  • task a senior manager with the responsibility for ensuring compliance
  • maintain records that demonstrate compliance
  • communicate the code, and its requirements, to all stake-holders, be they internal or external
  • take steps to ensure their suppliers and sub-contractors comply with the Code

Suppliers are to comply with:

  • all applicable laws in the countries in which they operate and all relevant ILO (International Labour Organization) conventions
  • all policies in the Responsible Sourcing Code

In our next post, we’ll tackle the first major issue addressed by the workbook, the employment of children.

* The harsh reality is that a professional blog with an educational, analytical, or business focus with a high-frequency of publication is not sustainable over the long term unless it is directly or indirectly revenue generating for the blogger (unless the blogger is independently wealthy or has an unnatural gamer’s ability to go seemingly forever without sleep). It’s the most likely reason why so many (potentially) great blogs have (almost) disappeared over the last year. (And since I’m not going to expose you to ads, collect your information for resale to targeted marketing lists, merchandise, or turn this into a purely pay-to-play endeavor, as there are enough of those out there already, an open-sponsorship mode, following in Spend Matters‘ footsteps, is really the only way to go.)

* This blog is now averaging around 3,000 hits a day and close to 1,500 unique page views and traffic is still increasing steadily (and we are talking whole percentage points every week).