“Securing your long term improvement of sustainability performance after supply chain verification?”

The Joint Audit Cooperation held its seventh corporate and social responsibility forum in Guangzhou, the 3rd largest city in mainland China and a leading commercial and manufacturing region.

Bringing together more than 200 representatives, the forum facilitated the debate between large ICT companies, equipment manufacturers, consulting companies, academic institutes, auditing firms and International NGOs, addressing the most pressing sensitive points in supply chain sustainability and aiming to make real, lasting improvements that create compelling advantages for businesses as well as enhance the reputation of the industry collectively.

Participants had the opportunity to access and attend remotely via live stream of the event. At its peak, there were approximately 800 connections viewing the event.

The event was organized by the Joint Audit Cooperation (JAC), an initiative which brings together 16 telecom operators: AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, KPN, MTS, Orange, Proximus, Rogers, Swisscom, Telefonica, Telenor, Telia Company (former TeliaSonera), TELSTRA, TIM (former Telecom Italia), Veon, Verizon and Vodafone

The forum aimed to answer the following questions:

  • How to ensure long term improvement of sustainability performance after on-site audits have been undertaken?
  • How to improve transparency in the supply chain in terms of visibility of conditions in lower downstream tiers?

Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability experts from different entities led the discussions, addressed questions raised with examples and proposed solutions:

  • The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology promoted Ecological Civilization Construction with Green Supply Chain;
  • Auditing companies (EcoVadis, SGS) shared the most common sustainability issues in China and shared emerging challenges and trends on CSR in the supply chain;
  • Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) has underlined the growing role of social dialogue in the factories and its benefits for the enterprise and the workers;
  • Witness case of innovation solutions (Elevate) showed how Digital, Robotic, Artificial Intelligence can impact manufacturing sites;
  • How 5G (JAC and Huawei on behalf of the ICT industry) could Benefit the Society and;
  • Consultants (BSR, Syntao) brought their expertise on Capability Building and how it can play an essential role to address the new CSR priorities in China.

Key outputs and conclusions from the Forum:

A major outcome of the Forum was the realisation that a closer ongoing relationship was needed, to work in collaboration to build capability and manage CSR.

One of the panel discussions between Nokia, ZTE, Huawei, Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom with auditors (SGS) announced their alliance to start the JAC Academy with the aim to strengthen the capabilities in suppliers’ factories, to manage and measure JAC requirements within a structured continuous improvement framework. This new approach is planned to be delivered during 2018 with a pilot that will combine factory-based training courses, on-site audits and sustainability forums for sharing best practices and case studies amongst suppliers. JAC focus is also shifting toward measuring effectiveness beyond on-site audits to ensure long-term improvement of sustainability performance and improved transparency across lower tiers of the supply chain.

The 7th JAC forum has, for the first time, officially recognised 21 factories that performed well during JAC audits carried out during 2016. The award recognised the spirit of collaboration, transparency and timely closure of any identified improvement.

Key achievements (Calendar Year 2017):
JAC aims is to verify, assess and improve social, environmental and ethical standards across the Information Communication Technology Supply chain, primarily by auditing and improving suppliers and sub-suppliers (meaning the suppliers in the lower tiers of JAC direct suppliers).

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 approximately 800,000 workers in those plants.

  • +30% increase in the number of CSR audits conducted;
  • Corrected +34% of issues compared to the previous year (Evidence based closure of issues found during audit);
  • Similar verification of sub-suppliers – 70% of factories audited were in lower tier supply chains (sub-supplier tiers of direct suppliers to JAC);
  • Approximately 100,000 workers were under the scope of the factories audited and;
  • An increase in JAC membership with 3 new members: MTS, TELSTRA and VEON expanding operators representing additional regions namely Australia and Russia.