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Ethical Sourcing

In addition to basic ethical behavior, there are additional ethical dimensions of sustainability within the supply chain. “Ethical” and “fair trade” are often used interchangeably with “sustainable” and “green.” An understanding by the public of supply chains has driven the consumer and other advocates to make corporations responsible for the actions of their suppliers and subcontractors.

Definition of Ethical Sourcing

Ethical sourcing can be defined as the sourcing of products and services in a responsible and sustainable way, ensuring that the environmental impact is minimal, and that the workers are safe and treated fairly as part of the sourcing process.
Because there is growing consumer backlash at companies who source goods from suppliers without knowing employee working conditions throughout the supply chain, or their environmental impact, procurement plays a part in shaping the perception of the corporation’s citizenship.

Examples of Ethical Sourcing

Examples of ethical sourcing concerns include the following: 

  • Working conditions, such as child labor, wages and benefits, working hours, forced labor, health and safety, freedom of association, harassment and discrimination
  • Environmental concerns, such as sourcing of conflict minerals, deforestation, improper handling and disposal of hazardous materials
  • Community involvement, such as volunteer activities, hunger/poverty/disease assistance, disaster relief efforts
  • Business management, such as safe material acquisition, general product safety, traceability processes, diversity

Nongovernmental Organizations

Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), such as Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund, and Amnesty International, actively monitor the supply chain behavior of corporations worldwide, and wield a lot of power in terms of media, public awareness, and putting pressure on corporations to behave ethically.

There are currently over 1.5 million NGO’s operating in the USA alone, with an estimated 10 million across the globe.

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