Sharing best practices tools and challenges for a sustainable supply chain, today and in the future

The Joint Audit Cooperation held its sixth corporate and social responsibility forum bringing together with 133 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 to further develop sustainable business practices.

The theme for the forum was “Sharing best practices, tools and challenges for a sustainable supply chain, today and in the future”.

For the first time participants have had the opportunity to access and attend remotely via live stream of the event. At its peak, there were  1400 connections viewing the event.

The event was organized by the Joint Audit Cooperation (JAC), an initiative which brings together 13 telecom operators (in alphabetical order): AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, KPN, Orange, Proximus, Rogers, Swisscom, Telefonica, Telenor, Telia Company (former TeliaSonera),TIM (former Telecom Italia), Verizon and Vodafone.

JAC’s aim is to verify, assess and improve social, environmental and ethical standards across the ICT value chain, primarily by auditing and improving suppliers and sub-suppliers (meaning the suppliers in the lower tiers of JAC’s direct suppliers).

The approach of JAC brings benefits to suppliers as well as telecom operators, which reduces the need of multiple and varied CSR Audits and allows sharing practices and reducing duplication of efforts and costs.

The JAC program was founded in June 2010, and a significant number of audits have been conducted on manufacturing plants based across China, Taiwan, South Korea, Malaysia, Vietnam, Japan, India, Eastern Europe and South America, covering over 740,000 workers in those plants.

Key achievements (Calendar Year 2016):

  • 13% increase in the number of CSR audits conducted (compared to CY 2015)
  • 20% increase in the assessments of working conditions in manufacturing plants of Tier 2 and 3 suppliers (compared to CY 2015);
  • Corrected 62% more issues compared to the last year (Evidence based closure of issues found during audit)
  • Approximately 70,000 workers were under the scope of the factories audited;
  • Worker voice initiative launched using anonymous surveys delivered via mobiles using Laborlink in collaboration with Good World Solutions; and
  • Increase in JAC membership with 3 new members: AT&T, Rogers and Telefonica

The theme of the sixth JAC Forum aimed to have an open and constructive discussion between JAC, suppliers and stakeholders across the industry to support the development of sustainability in the supply chain.

The spirit of cooperation between the parties with the desire to share and learn is the focus of these forums building from previous JAC Forums:

  • 2012 – Mutual cooperation is beneficial to address sustainability challenges
  • 2013 – Sharing CSR challenges progress and perspectives
  • 2014 – Realistic and clear CSR Requirements
  • 2015 – Transparency in the supply chain
  • 2016 – How sustainability can accelerate the delivery of business benefits

This year’s forum focused on real examples directly from suppliers sharing best practices and solutions addressing specific CSR issues to enable others to learn from and question.

The forum also heard from the Chinese State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS) on the Chinese Occupational Safety & Health Program – This is the first time they have presented at an international event sharing the challenges and developments on reducing fatalities and injuries across the different industries in China.

Additional speakers also shared perspectives on the Top 10 major trends and Sustainable Development Goals from the Chinese consultant Syntao and by the Agency of the UN Global Compact respectively, to raise awareness on the challenges and opportunities for responsible growth for the industry.

Real examples of best practices were presented by the suppliers during the event from:

  • Huawei/TTC: Fire Prevention via Infrared Thermographic test;
  • Nokia: Anti-corruption;
  • DELL: Environmental Management system in cooperation with the NGO IPE;
  • EPI Consulting in collaboration with DT to develop and benchmark the Supplier Performance on sustainability showing business benefit for supplier, workers and customers; and
  • NGO Verité with the witness of the VP of the factory, Suzhou Bohan Plastic Ironware, to illustrate how worker engagement and workers’ sense of value 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.

4 Round table discussions were held (Session called “World Café”) between JAC member companies and suppliers with the focus on having transparent discussions on key issues that continually are found during JAC audits around:

  1. Working Hours/Wages
  2. Health and Safety
  3. Environment
  4. Ethics

Discussions were kindly moderated and facilitated by NGOs (ICO and IPE) and CSR Institutions (ILO and Global Compact).

Key outputs and conclusions from the Forum:

  • JAC member companies and suppliers should review integrating audit efforts with new approaches beyond compliance to empower managers and workers to drive continuous improvement of sustainability performance across the supply chain;
  • JAC and direct suppliers could co-operate and explore training workers and management on realistic and comprehensible sustainability objectives;
  • Review providing greater focus on key issues such as social dialogue with stakeholders, training on how to work in a factory where the dignity of the workers is recognized and respected; and
  • Manufacture products responsibly by doing so safely, ensuring the wellbeing of workers and preserving the environment in the process.