Ethical Supply Chain Management

Social Accountability 8000 Introduction & Basic Training comes to Vancouver – join us!

Are you interested in becoming a leader in social supply chain compliance? Interested in a way to both enhance your career and help your organization stand out as a leader in corporate social responsibility?

Social Accountability International (SAI)We have just the thing! Reeve Consulting is excited to be partnering with Social Accountability International (SAI) to deliver SA8000 training August 22-26 at SFU Harbourfront in Vancouver.

SA8000 is the leading global social accountability standard for decent working conditions and labour rights. Overseen by SAI, SA8000 is an auditable certification standard system based on the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Convention on the Rights of the Child and a number of International Labour Organization conventions. Today 1.3 million workers are employed in over 2,300 SA8000 certified facilities in 62 countries.

Develop your expertise in managing CSR

The SA8000 course provides practical knowledge on the main issues of social auditing and performance, using the SA8000 management systems approach. More specifically, the training covers:

  • Key concepts and background on social compliance in the supply chain and social auditing, and how they can help you improve your CSR program
  • Understanding the elements of the SA8000 standard and how they can be used to enhance your supply chain efficiencies and social compliance
  • Reviewing solutions that will help you overcome common compliance challenges
  • Effective auditing techniques that can be used to verify your supplier’s compliance with international labour standards
  • Effective methods for managing risk in facilities, or across an entire supply chain, which can result in cost savings for your organization and your suppliers

The guidance document, in-depth case studies, virtual factory tours and highly interactive group exercises allow for hands-on learning and practical application methods and tools.

The course concludes with a comprehensive exam and students who successfully pass are awarded a Certificate of Successful Completion.

Who should attend?

Targeted at a wide audience, the course has previously drawn auditors, social compliance staff, sustainability directors, brand managers, retailers, manufacturers, government officials, academics, trade union and NGO representatives among others.

Whether you’re currently employed as a social compliance auditor or aspire to be more active in this field, this training is aimed at enhancing your expertise in managing corporate social responsibility performance and supply chain efficiencies by aligning them with international labour standards.

Vancouver mountains

Flickr / D'Arcy Norman

This is the only SA8000 Basic Training to be held in North America in the remainder of 2011. We encourage you to sign-up now to reserve a seat.

  • Date: August 22-26, 2011 (Monday-Friday 9am-6pm)
  • Location: SFU Harbourfront Centre (515 West Hastings St.), Vancouver, BC
  • Price: $1995 (credit card or wire transfer accepted)
  • Online registration: http://www.socialfingerprint.org/enrollment.html (enter the coupon code ‘ReeveVan2011’ and receive a discount on the Thursday night networking event – details below)

Networking Event – Thursday, August 25

red wine glass

Flickr / jenny downing

In conjunction with the SA8000 training, Reeve Consulting will be coordinating and hosting a dinner and networking evening on Thursday, August 25.

The evening will featuring a high-level guest speaker who will share their experience in managing a leading global supply chain compliance program. This event will provide an excellent opportunity to connect with sustainable purchasing professionals from across North America and to learn from others experiences.

Stay tuned for details as we’ll be announcing them here on our blog as the date approaches.

Cadbury Dairy Milk Goes Fair Trade in Canada

Flickr /xelcise

If you pick-up a Cadbury Dairy Milk bar in Canada these days you may notice some changes to the packaging. Since this summer, Cadbury’s Dairy Milk line has been fair trade certified. The wrappers now include an internationally recognized symbol that assures the sugar and cocoa have been purchased from producers paid a fair wage for their crop. Cadbury’s first fair trade bars were released in the UK and Ireland in 2009 and more recently in Canada, Australia and New Zealand in 2010. According to the Cadbury website, going fair trade will quadruple the sales of fair trade cocoa from Ghana and affect over 40,000 cocoa farmers.

The fair trade marketing campaign:

To accompany the release of its fair trade line, Cadbury has unveiled a marketing campaign that invites people to “see the big fair trade picture”. The campaign features print, billboard and online advertising as well as a redesigned website dedicated to the brand (dairymilk.ca). At the centre of the campaign is a series of murals in Toronto and Montreal designed by a Ghanian artist, each of which focuses on a particular benefit of fair trade. The murals fit together like puzzle pieces to present the “big picture”.  Themes of the murals include “Improving Local Infrastructure”, “Providing Access to Clean Water”, “Improving Local Health Care” and more. Out-of-home advertising also featured a summer street campaign that invited passersby to sign a petition supporting fair trade in Canada.

Is big business good for fair trade?

This move has brought plenty of attention to Cadbury and has some questioning if big business’ increasing interest in fair trade is good for the sector. On the one hand, more corporations moving some of their buying to fair trade could have a large positive impact worldwide. Further, the greater availability of fair trade certified products could raise awareness among consumers. There’s also the hope that other corporations will note their competitors shift and joins suit, for example Hershey’s or Nestle.

But is it enough for Cadbury to convert one of its lines to fair trade designation? If they’re committed to the tenets of the movement, shouldn’t they be buying fair trade inputs for all their products? It’s a good question. A skeptical view of Cadbury’s fair trade Dairy Milk may lead one to conclude its primarily a marketing stunt; an attempt to improve Cadbury’s public image without a full commitment to sustainability.

It’s a start:

At Reeve Consulting we’re not quick to jump to this conclusion. We support incremental change and from experience realize that broader change takes time.  Companies face many challenges in converting their supply chains and in most cases need to start small. An important element for us is that companies acknowledge there are problems beyond those they’re starting with, and that moving forward there’s a plan for these issues to be addressed.

We’re hoping to discuss this further with Cadbury’s Ethical Sourcing Manager this week when we attend the Sustainable Supply Chain Solutions conference in San Francisco. Watch this space for a follow-up post on what we find out. We’ll also be tweeting from the conference at @ReeveConsulting.

Can sweatshops improve lives and economic growth?

Flickr / lovstromp

Benjamin Powell, a Stafford University professor of economics, thinks so!

In his book No Sweat: How Sweatshops Improve Lives and Economic Growth he argues that we should rejoice when we buy apparel made in sweatshops because it creates jobs and provides a living for people in poorer countries. He states that sweatshop workers usually earn at least the national average and therefore make a good living that should be supported by our consumption.

But Powell is “arguing in support of the lesser evil.” The other piece of the puzzle that Powell seems to ignore is that the same companies that are using sweatshops could continue to invest in developing economies, bring jobs to the same nations, and improve economic welfare, while at the same time refusing to support sweatshops conditions.

The fact is, whether or not workers earn a decent wage, the human rights of sweatshop workers are consistently violated, making Powell’s argument hard to swallow. Many factories workers suffer forced overtime, terrible factory conditions and often receive less than they were promised, in salary or food. In some case children are exploited and are not able to receive an education as a result.

At Reeve Consulting, we believe lives can be improved and economies can grow by engaging with suppliers and manufacturers to improve labour conditions in production facilities. Addressing ethics in supply chains does not mean closing down factories and laying off staff; it means working to improve the lives of factory workers, increasing profits for factory owners, and stimulating economic growth.

Whatever the potential economic arguments for sweatshops may be, one should not forget that “an economy” is a human construct and is therefore interconnected to human wellbeing. Some sweatshops may pay decent wages (relatively speaking) in some or even many cases, but a factory where staff are sick and tired is not a place where lives can be improved and profits can be maximized.

Sustainability Reaches the Walmart World

Flickr / mjb84

Traditionally associated with a ‘super-size-me’ kind of lifestyle, Walmart seems to be making changes to fit in with the green movement – possibly in a big way.

This past February, Walmart Canada hosted a Green Business Summit that resulted in 24 of Canada’s largest corporations accepting Walmart’s challenge to commit to the following: “My organization will launch a major sustainability project over the next year in Canada focused on waste, energy, water or sustainable products or services.” It’s not clear that every corporation that accepted the challenge has delivered, but this week 8 of the companies have posted “Sustainability Commitment Updates” on www.sharegreen.ca.

Walmart’s own commitment was to make the switch to sustainable seafood, a hot topic these days, with Greenpeace putting pressure on large companies like Costco for selling species of fish, scallops and prawns that the group deems to be unsustainable, while sustainable seafood certification programs, such as SeaChoice and OceanWise, are being adopted by more and more firms. Walmart Canada has pledged to carry only fish that meets at least minimum standards for sustainability, by 2013.

Seven other companies have posted their own updates: Frito-Lay Canada and Kraft Canada are working towards more sustainable packaging for their products (for example, Frito-Lay’s 100% compostable chip bags); Hallmark Canada and Nature’s Grilling Products have targets to reduce energy use in their plants and offices, and Nature’s Grilling has committed to using sustainably sourced charcoal; The Home Depot Canada and Kruger Products both have energy and GHG emissions reduction targets that they’re already working to meet, and Heinz Canada has also already begun reducing its GHG emissions.

It’s nice to see some of the giants making moves, but we’re cautious to become too excited: “sustainability” can be a loosely applied term, and the phenomenon of “greenwashing” can make it hard to tell how environmentally responsible firms’ choices actually are. Additionally, ethical considerations can often lose out when “green” targets are easier to achieve. Regardless, going green has clearly gone mainstream, and that’s probably for the better. As with any movement, we’d prefer large-scale shifts in the way things are done, however, small steps are encouraging, as long as they only mark the beginning.

Bridging the Gap Between Local Action and Global Impact

Engineers Without Borders / Bridging the Gap

Mohandas Ghandi once said: “Be the change that you want to see in the world.” This was the inspiration behind this year’s Engineers Without Borders’ (EWB) Bridging the Gap Conference held at UBC on March 27th.

Compelling keynote presentations delivered by Shauna Sylvester and Dr. Hans Rosling and several breakout sessions cut across four main themes: EWB’s Values and Capacity Building, Advocacy, Serving Global Society, and Connecting to the Developing World. According to Rogayeh Tabrizi, event organizer extraordinaire, “we came together to create a space for dialogue, for understanding, for sharing the passion, for helping each other see the world around us better.”

The Fair Trade breakout session encouraged critical discussion by walking participants through what it means to “trade fairly.” Workshop facilitators Stacey Toews, of Level Ground Trading, and Randy Hooper, of Discovery Organics, talked candidly about how true fair trade has to go beyond just putting a Fair Trade Certified logo on a package. From their perspective, building direct relationships with producers that are based in transparency, dialogue and respect is really what fair trade is about.

This contention resonates across the field of ethical and sustainable purchasing. Countless examples of successful ethical and sustainable purchasing (ESP) programs demonstrate that focusing on supplier or producer relationships is imperative. In interviewing leaders and pioneers in this field, Reeve has heard procurement professionals say time and time again that without building strong relationships with suppliers their ESP initiatives would have been less successful.

When you buy products or services do you just look for a third-party ecolabel to ease your conscious or do you go beyond to learn more about the supplier or producer who is behind the product? You may not have time to build longterm relationships with all your suppliers, but even just asking a few simple questions about their business practices or their relationships with their contractors will facilitate understanding and greater success in achieving your sustainability goals. To paraphrase Toews and Hooper, go beyond product labelling and dig deeper…get to know the people behind your products and enter into dialogue with them.

Who Sets the Standards for Ecolabels?

It is common practice to rely on third-party ecolabels to define environmental criteria for particular purchasing categories.  Ecolabels provide third-party verification of the environmental and social standards related to a particular product or service category and can be used to reduce the onus of creating environmental criteria.  By understanding how to identify a mature and credible ecolabel purchasers can rely on these pre-determined criteria and simply specify that the product or service in question carry this ecolabel, removing the burden of developing criteria.

There are over 350 ecolabels in the global marketplace so it important to understand how to identify mature and credible ecolabel standards, as all are not created equally.  There are three main international expert sources that provide definitions of different types of ecolabels and set out parameters for developing high quality ecolabels that consumers can trust.  The following provides an introduction to these organizations and briefly describes their efforts to set international parameters for ecolabelling.

International Parameters for Ecolabels: Key Organizations and Definitions

The following organizations have set international definitions and parameters for ecolabels:

  1. Global Ecolabelling Network (GEN)
  2. International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
  3. ISEAL Alliance

Global Ecolabelling Network

GEN is a non-profit association of third-party environmental performance recognition, certification and labeling organizations founded in 1994 to improve, promote and develop the ecolabelling of products and services.  GEN defines different types of ecolabels, categorizes existing ecolabels, and sets generic environmental criteria for specific product and service categories.  As a membership based organization, GEN provides assurance that member organizations are meeting their parameters for ecolabelling.

For more detail visit: http://www.globalecolabelling.net/whatis.html

International Organization for Standardization

ISO is the world’s largest developer and publisher of international standards.  It brings together a network of national standards institutes from 159 countries to build consensus of global standard setting.  In particular, they have created the ISO 14020 series of standards that define parameters for developing environmental labels and declarations.  This series includes ISO 14024, 14021 and 14025, which define the parameters for Type I, II, and III ecolabels, respectively.

For more detail visit: http://www.iso.org/iso/catalogue_detail.htm?csnumber=34425

ISEAL Alliance

ISEAL is a global association for social and environmental standards.  It works with established and emerging voluntary standard systems to develop guidance and strengthen the effectiveness of these standards.  They also work with companies, non-profits and governments to support their referencing and use of voluntary standards.  They have developed Codes of Good Practice that are applied to leading standards systems and are an ISEAL membership requirement.  As a membership based organization, ISEAL provides assurance that member organizations are meeting their parameters for ecolabelling.

For more detail visit: http://www.isealalliance.org/content/codes-good-practice

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What’s in a label? ISEAL Alliance aims for a gold medal with standard setting code.

Who’s certifying the certifiers?

Credible standards that define sustainable products is critical to ongoing work in sustainable supply chains.  Here’s an interesting presentation from a group that’s trying to bring more consistency to the standard setting process.  ISEAL is an organisation that is comprised of groups like FSC, Marine Stewardship Council, Rainforest Alliance and more.

Reeve is keen to see more developments like these.

Check out this quick and informative presentation on ISEAL Alliances Standard-Setting Code: Introduction to the ISEAL Standard-Setting Code

View more presentations from ISEAL Alliance.

Vancouver Olympics Sources Ethically Produced Flowers for Medal Ceremonies

The Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee (VANOC) will soon be handing out 1800 ethically sourced bouquets of flowers to champion athletes during the medal ceremonies. At a time when men and women around North America will be buying flowers for Valentine’s Day, VANOC’s story of sourcing flowers from an ethically and environmentally minded company is timely.

VANOC awarded the contract to produce the bouquets for the ceremonies to Just Beginning Flowers, a Surrey-based non-profit social enterprise that sources ethically produced flowers from Ecuador and from local producers in the Fraser Valley. Although there has been some recent criticism about the Olympic bouquets not containing native plant species (see related article below), the owners and operators of Just Beginning Flowers state that the flowers they import from Ecuador are ethically sourced and meet Fair Trade standards.

Through their Buy Smart program, which Reeve helped develop, VANOC has set up protocols to ensure their suppliers are adhering to social and ethical standards. Just Beginning Flowers is considered one of the program’s success stories as they not only source locally and ethically from abroad, but they are also a social enterprise that has developed a training program for students that have barriers to employment. Furthermore, Just Beginning Flowers employs green business practices with the goal of minimizing the impact of their operations on the environment.

Check out the related Vancouver Sun  article which highlights the controversy about the lack of native plant species in the Olympic bouquets. This Valentine’s Day will you buy native plant species or imported flowers from Latin America?

For more detail on the VANOC Buy Smart program check out: Buy Smart Program Designed by Reeve Consulting Receives 2010 Games “Sustainability Star”

City of Edmonton Council Unanimously Accepts Reeve Developed Sustainable Purchasing Policy

Flickr / Stella Blu

Edmonton has now joined the ranks of other progressive Canadian municipalities that attempt to eliminate sweatshop labour in their supply chain. The new Sustainable Purchasing Policy (SPP) encourages City staff and suppliers to look at ways to reduce environmental and social impact by purchasing sustainable products and services.

In consultation with City of Edmonton staff, Reeve Consulting developed a policy that provides formal direction to continue excellent efforts around “green” purchasing and now compliments this with emphasis on the social side of the equation. To assist with policy implementation, Reeve designed a complete package for the City that includes the procedures and tools to effect significant change with a focus on rewarding suppliers who demonstrate leadership.

Last year, the City spent approximately $1.5 billion on construction, products and services. Using the Reeve developed tools, the City will initially focus on incorporating sustainable purchasing practices in ten product categories. Over time, sustainable purchasing criteria will be incorporated into all product categories.

Reeve Consulting is thrilled by Council’s unanimous support of the SPP and thoroughly enjoyed working with City staff who are so energized and enthused about making Edmonton’s supply chain sustainable.

Buy Smart Program Designed by Reeve Consulting Receives 2010 Games “Sustainability Star”

Vancouver 2010’s Buy Smart program of ethical and sustainable purchasing has been awarded one of the pretigious Sustainabilty Star designations for the 2010 Winter Games.

The Buy Smart program was originally envisioned by Tim Reeve, Terry Wright, John McLaughlin and other members of the 2010 Bid Corporation as part of Vancouver’s original bid submission to host the 2010 games.

Buy Smart is recognized as an Olympic first and complimented the Reeve designed ethical sourcing program for the 2010 Olympic Merchandising program.

With an Olympic sized shopping list and a spending budget of over $1 billion the 2010 games have the power to make a big impact in the marketplace.  Designed to leverage this spending power, Buy Smart has created opportunities for green business and technologies, social enterprises and Aboriginal entrepreneurs.  Buy Smart has played a key role in directing spending into communities that might not have otherwise benefited from the games, such as Aboriginal communities and Vancouver’s inner-city.

Buy Smart has been promoted widely within the International Olympic Committee and to future games Organizing Committee’s.  Delegations from both the London 2012 Games and the Sochi 2014 Games have been briefed about the Buy Smart program and how it can be used to leverage sustainability programming associated with the games and other major events

Reeve Consulting is proud to have worked so closely with VANOC, the 2010 Commerce Centre and other 2010 Games partners in the creation of Buy Smart and is thrilled to see it recognized as one of the key sustainability features of the 2010 games.