The Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) is a 36-member strategic partnership between the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector and organizations committed to creating and promoting technologies and practices that foster economic, environmental and social sustainability that recognizes that sustainability is a strategic issue. As a result of this recognition, GeSI has decided to do something about the situation. In partnership with EcoVadis, it recently developed and re-launched a new and greatly improved version of the Electronic Tool for Accountable Supply Chains (E-TASC). Designed to facilitate support and drive accountability in the area of human rights and other sustainability standards throughout the supply chain, the goal is that the tool will allow for a more effective and transparent management of ICT Supply Chains and allow companies to better report to their different stakeholders.
Within a month of launching, over 20 ITC companies are already fully deployed on the platform and using EcoVadis to assess suppliers and over 1000 ICT suppliers are subscribed and registered on the platform (which can be found at etasc.ecovadis.com). The platform has all the power of the core EcoVadis platform, which has been EcoVating the Globe for many years (as described in the linked SI post) plus new capabilities in the areas of collaboration and corrective action plans, multi-tier transparency, site audits, and SEC conflict mineral tracking (which is very important if you are a supplier that wants to supply to a US ICT company). In addition to the deep supplier sustainability, business practice, and environmental assessment, there is also an in-depth labour practice and human rights assessment as well as the ability to track sustainable procurement initiatives. But the biggest improvement by far is the ability to share supplier audits and associated data between participating member companies.
If every buyer does their own audit of a supplier, it not only presents a significant drain on the supplier (which will end up costing all of the buyers in the end), but diminishes the chance that any buyer will get a thorough audit. There are two reasons for this. First of all, if you are doing individual audits on every major supplier, the cost is going to add up quickly so you are going to opt for the minimal audit from the lowest cost provider. And you’ll get what you pay for. A check-the-box minimal review of operations and records. It won’t be hard for poor working conditions at a secondary factory, off the books underage labour, etc. to slip through. Secondly, if a supplier has to deal with dozens of audits, it’s going to try and rush each auditor through each audit due to limited time and resources. In this case, it’s going to have books, materials, tours, etc. prepared, stick to them, and possibly avoid areas that could be troublesome to you. But if all of the big buyers come together and commission one audit, through a platform such as E-TASC on the EcoVadis platform, they can afford to pay for a very thorough audit at a fraction of the price that is not stressful on a supplier’s resources. Every one wins, especially when the supplier can see their assessment through the platform, what corrective actions they have to take to improve it, and other recommendations for improving their standing with the industry overall. In additional, all parties can see the results of the audit against the industry standard benchmark.
It’s a great solution for the ICT industry and one every ICT buyer should check out BEFORE regulations come into play that will mandate more sustainability and traceability in their supply chain.