January 14, 2016, Nanjing: 5th JAC CSR Forum
How sustainability can accelerate the delivery of business benefits
More than 110 representatives from large ICT companies, i.e. telecom operators and equipment manufacturers, organizations active in Corporate Social Responsibility issues (CSR), academia, auditing companies, International NGOs have attended the fifth Joint Audit Cooperation CSR Forum. The theme for this year’s forum was “How sustainability can accelerate the delivery of business benefits”.
The event was organized by the Joint Audit Cooperation (JAC), an initiative which brings together 10 telecom operators (in alphabetical order): Deutsche Telekom, KPN, Orange, Proximus, Swisscom, TIM (former Telecom Italia), Telenor, TeliaSonera, Verizon and Vodafone.
The aim of JAC is to verify, assess and improve social, environmental and ethical standards across the ICT value chain primarily by auditing suppliers and sub-suppliers according to a commonly agreed scheme and facilitating the sharing of better practices. This brings benefits to suppliers, as well as the telecom operators, which reduces the need of multiple and varied CSR Audits and allows sharing practices, in addition to companies managing their costs. The JAC program started in June 2010, and a significant number of audits have been conducted on manufacturing plants based in China, Taiwan, South Korea, Malaysia, Vietnam, Japan, India, Eastern Europe and South America, covering more than 600.000 workers. Here are a list of JAC’s achievements (during calendar year 2015):
• Doubling the number of CSR audits carried out (2014 vs 2015);
• assessed conditions in manufacturing plants of Tier 3 supplier;
• 10% increase in the corrective action/ resolution of issues identified through audits; and
• 33% of the manufacturing plants audited in 2015 showed no critical or major CSR issues
The objective of this year’s forum was to engage participants in an open and constructive discussion on how to improve CSR and sustainability in the ICT industry and identify business benefits. The enabler to this is a need to focus on assessment of any environmental and social impacts of a product during its entire life cycle and the greater transparency and engagement from large inform action communication technology companies. Companies have a role to play empowering consumers and positively influencing their habits; thereby driving improvements in overall sustainability.
The forum covered and presented on the Sustainable Assessment Framework (SASF), is a tool (SASF) that will enable companies to assess the sustainability performance of products and services through their entire life-cycles focusing in particular on their impacts on the environment, human rights implications, utility perspective and indirect benefits, while other methods, such as eco-rating cover a limited range of issues and are focused only on specific products/services..
During the forum, real case studies were presented with discussion between NGOs, suppliers, sub-suppliers, auditing companies and academia showing how an open and transparent dialogue together with proper and responsible engagement of the workforce can drive workers’ satisfaction and bring business benefits in terms of reduced workers turnover, higher quality, less rework, and higher productivity and help to provide a basis for improvement actions
The main conclusions of the Forum were:
1) That sustainability can accelerate business benefits with marketing and procurement involvement having seen case studies showing tangible results in the short/medium term;
2) It is essential to integrate the audit efforts with the exchange of better practices between companies, and implement training and capacity building that will empower plant managers and workers and raise activity on driving continuous improvement of the sustainability performance of their company’s operations; and
3) To develop top down communication to the end-consumers enabling them to make an informed choice on sustainable products and through engaging marketing.