Stop Blaming the Supplier! Melamine in the Milk is Your Fault!

Research reveals that only 6% of procurement managers and directors have ever been made aware of unethical activity in their supply chain. (Source:

As much as we’d like to believe that only 6% of supply chains have unethical activity, given that almost 86% of North American companies have a supply chain reliance upon China alone for key parts1, that’s a pipe dream. Depending on how rigid you want your definition of ethical to be, I’d guess that the number should be closer to 60%.

So why is it your fault if your supplier does it? Simple. It’s because less than half of your organizations do any due diligence in their supply chains! Only 48% of UK firms do any due diligence at all! Even worse, 14% of respondents to the EY survey did not even know what third-party due diligence meant, for crying out loud! You have to do due diligence and you have to ask tough questions and someone who can be trusted has to do a site visit to major suppliers at some point. If you do all this, and the supplier lies through their teeth, then, while your company may still be held financially responsible, it won’t be held criminally responsible and ethically you will know you did all you could (except cut the supplier loose before they did the unethical act, but at least you can cut them loose as soon as they do).

This is why you need good supply chain visibility, document management, and CSR monitoring. There are companies that do this, including Resilinc, Integration Point, and Ecovadis. (See the Vendor Post Index or Resource Site for more.) Reach out and get these types of solutions if you don’t already have them. They will be worth it.

1 Supply Chain Disruptions, Ted Landgraf, Above the Standard Procurement Group, July 15, 2012