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How to Begin an Ethical Sourcing Initiative

Similar to beginning a sustainability initiative, it is important to prioritize with which products or service to start an ethical sourcing project, in order to receive the biggest benefit.
It is typically most effective to begin by focusing attention on those parts of the supply chain where the risk of not meeting ethical standards is the highest, e.g., products or services sourced in countries pre-known for possible infractions on human rights, or initiating a trace of possible conflict mineral sourcing.
When determining compliance with ethical sourcing throughout a supply chain it is important to remember that a buying organization cannot hold its suppliers to a higher standard than their own policy on the same issues.
Additional Best Practices for Establishing Ethical Sourcing
Many organizations find it beneficial to form corporate ethics teams that include representation from senior leadership, legal counsel, human resources and various functional areas within the company, in order to ensure a culture that reflects ethical sourcing.
Best practices for ensuring ethical compliance include the following:

  • Develop strategic, close, honest buyer-seller relationships to deter unethical behavior that might destroy the relationship.
  • Build trust by allowing the suppliers to report non-compliance without fear of losing business
  • Reward best practices.
  • Schedule regular meetings with suppliers to discuss issues, risks, best practices.
  • Implement “supplier exchanges” so that suppliers can work together to develop joint solutions.
  • Hold conferences so that suppliers can showcase solutions to the challenges faced.
  • During the audit process, include interviews with workers, not just management.
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