With accurate data about supplier practices, businesses can promote humane conditions. One of the ways to use transparency for good is to implement new technology to try and enforce anti-slavery laws and achieve compliance goals, or even go beyond them. Sportswear brand Adidas is taking the initiative to do this, according to Reuters.
Adidas works toward empowerment
The Thomson Reuters Foundation recently spoke to Adita Wanchoo, Adidas Group's Senior Manager for Development Partnerships, who is specifically looking to help the company try and create a supply chain built on clear information on slavery and employee conditions. Part of this has involved increasing communications with laborers through an app that would allow them to submit complaints. This comes in addition to the company's existing anti-slavery practices but could set a new tone if it expands.
"We want to make it as easy and anonymous as possible for workers," Wanchoo said. She added that "sometimes there can be resistance from suppliers, but we work with them to demonstrate how this can help them in the long run by improving supply chain transparency, communication, productivity and worker retention."
While this may have just begun as a pilot program, Adidas could see the practice expand and become normal at many of its factory locations. Even if other companies don't adopt this practice exactly, could it send the message that such apps are useful for gathering information?
As it's based on both technology and a current need, it seems to be very much of the times, and could play into similar efforts. Procurement management professionals may also find themselves increasingly tasked with addressing slavery, and making a key effort to transform procurement is a way to do it.
What procurement can do
Empowering this department within a business, or possibly creating a position to tackle slavery specifically, as Adidas did, may help define what a given company plans to do about slavery risks. A report from Walk Free Foundation and the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply specifically explained the role that procurement has to play.
This includes thinking ahead, planning out enforcement measures and creating a company culture that leads employees to enforce the policies laid out. In a broader respect, the report also said that businesses should hold themselves accountable and look for ways to promote sufficient auditing standards.
"It might also help to pay attention to possible problem signs of high-risk areas."
A matter of international importance
There's been an emphasis on solving this problem that goes beyond companies. Spend Matters reported on former U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, who recently appeared at a supply conference and explained the need for "responsible capitalism," something that could involve the procurement sector. He also referenced his government's efforts to respond to the industry and take a stand against slavery.
As necessary as ending supply chain slavery is, making a major change can be a difficult process. To ensure it works well, businesses can use benchmark data to drive a productive transformation.