Daily Archives: September 2, 2007

JLP Responsible Sourcing Part XII: Summary

This series of posts reviewed the John Lewis Partnership‘s Responsible Sourcing Supplier Workbook and summarized each of the key areas of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) that you need to get a grip on to truly be a good corporate citizen. Based on this knowledge, as per the workbook’s recommendations, you should be:

  • working to understand the issues referred to in the Responsible Sourcing Code of Practice and what they mean to you
  • identifying your key areas of risk and assessing your production site’s performance against these standards
  • learning about practical solutions and actions that can be taken to tackle the issues
  • identifying suitable corrective actions for your production site(s)
  • demonstrating continuous improvement and commitment to best-in-class corporate social responsibility standards
  • rigorously working your way through the checklists in the workbook; this involves
    • making a visual inspection of the workplace
    • looking at management records
    • actually talking – and listening – to managers

This is because the JLP, in their research, uncovered many startling facts, which include:

  • over 246 million children worldwide are involved in child labour
  • almost 180 million children are facing long-term health risks due to the hazardous nature of their employment
  • the ILO estimates the number of victims of forced labour globally at approximately 12.3 million
  • children in forced and bonded labour represent two-thirds of children in the worst forms of child labour, conservatively estimated at 5.7 million children worldwide
  • more fatalities have occurred in the workplace than during war-time: almost 270 million accidents are recorded yearly, of which 2.2 million are fatal
  • over 208 million workers suffer from work related diseases
  • a sexual harassment study in commercial agriculture and textile manufacturing in Kenya found that over 90% of respondents had experienced or observed sexual abuse and 95% of women who had suffered abuse were afraid to report the problem for fear of losing their jobs
  • workers in England and Wales experienced an estimated 849,000 incidents of violence in 2002/2003
  • nine economies reported over 2,000 annual hours worked per person in the latest year for which data was available to the ILO
  • workers in China often work 360 hours per month, and some up to 400 hours per month, almost twice the legal limit
  • women in the UK earn, on average, 17% less than men
  • women in Malaysia earn, on average, 32% less than men
  • an estimated 1.4 Billion Workers (half of the world’s working population and almost one quarter of the population) live on less than $2 / day
  • an estimated 550 million people, or 20% of total world employment, live on less than $1 / day
  • the ILO estimates roughly 20 Million migrant workers (& family members) across Africa, 18 Million across North America, 12 Million in Central & South America, 7 Million in South & East Asia, 9 Million in the Middle East, and 30 Million across Europe
  • CO2 levels have risen more than 30% since widespread fossil fuel use began and are at their highest point in 400,000 years
  • a recent survey by the World Health Organization / United Nations Environment Program (WHO/UNEP) found that 10 of 11 major cities in the Asia-Pacific region exceeded dangerous levels of Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM) air pollutants
  • approximately 300 Million Chinese drink unsafe water and 90% of China’s cities have polluted groundwater

In addition to the workbook, The John Lewis Partnership also makes the full Responsible Sourcing Code of Practice freely available for download to anyone who wants it – and does so in nine different languages. So if you have difficulty with English (which may arguably be the hardest language on earth from a grammar, and even a definitional, perspective*), you can choose another language!

In conclusion, I’d like to give the John Lewis Partnership a great big Thank You for creating this great workbook and making it available for free to any supplier who wants to become more responsible. I only hope I did it justice. I’ve invited a couple of leading bloggers on the topic of corporate sustainability & responsibility to guest post on the issue, so, hopefully, next week will yield a Part XIII with a surprise guest post or two. You’ll just have to check back to find out.

As always, you can (still) access all of the posts in the series (to-date) by selecting the JLP category at any time.

* I’m not multi-lingual, but I have studied some of the basics, including grammar rules, of different languages in the past in an effort to understand the fundamentals of communication and thought patterns, which is much more important in the development of good algorithms than most people think. If I did not know English, of all the major languages out there, the only language I would be more concerned with having to learn is Chinese – and only because of the kanji alphabet. You could spend a lifetime learning five thousand words! As a comparative point, the Japanese have it right. Simplify the language with hiragana, and now katakana, and you only have to learn around sixty syllables – and, like German, you never have to worry about the correct way to spell the word as each syllable is consistently pronounced and spelled. (You only need to worry about where to place the intonation, since this can be mistaken for syllable stressing, which can completely change the meaning of the word, or be construed to convey emotional state.)