Loblaws and Joe Fresh waking up to more bad news

Every CEO wants to sit down with their coffee and open the paper to find their company making headlines – but not like this.

Joe Fresh Image

Consumers across Canada are looking at the labels in their clothing and wondering if the t-shirt they put on this morning was made in Bangladesh and if the person that made it died yesterday in the catastrophic collapse of a garment factory in Dhakar.  Loblaws, the parent company of the Joe Fresh brand is scrambling to contain a public relations nightmare as word spreads that some of their garments were, in fact, made in that factory.

Loblaws had done its homework, they had audit systems in place to ensure that their clothing was made without child labour and with fair pay and decent working conditions.  But they forgot about the building.  No one thought to ask if the building itself was safe.  Creating comprehensive audits to protect the workers in your supply chain and your brand is what Reeve Consulting specializes in; it is our hope that by encouraging companies to engage in this dialogue and practice that future disasters can be avoided.

Joe Fresh and other Canadian Brands caught up in Bangladesh Ethical Sourcing Tragedy

Today we learned of the devastating collapse of a factory building in Bangladesh, in which some well-known Western brands, such as Joe Fresh, were having their clothing manufactured.  While our sympathies are with the victims and their families, this tragedy brings into focus how important it is for companies who are manufacturing items overseas and domestically to have robust auditing and sustainable and ethical purchasing practices.

This is not the first such tragedy in Dhaka. Just five months ago, a fire killed 112 people in another garment factory. Faulty electrical wiring combined with few and narrow exits were to blame for the deaths. A year before the incident, the factory was purportedly flagged with an “orange” grade by a Walmart ethical sourcing official for “violations and/or conditions which were deemed to be high risk”.  Yet, major brands such as Benetton, Children’s Place, Mango and Walmart were all associated with this tragedy.

Here at home we’ve also seen the effects of poor working conditions ending in tragic situations. Examples such as the mushroom farm in Langley, BC where three people died and two suffered permanent brain damage when entering a pump shed where toxic gas had accumulated. The farm’s composting facility had been operating without an occupancy permit and the Township of Langley had reportedly been trying to shut it down for two years. When manufacturers cut corners and ignore warnings about safety for the sake of their profit margin, they endanger their employees.

Factors like fair pay, good working conditions, health benefits and banning child labour are strategic supply chain issues. Making sure that buildings are in safe and operational condition with no violations is just as imperative as banning child labour, or ensuring fair pay. Responsible sourcing across a supply chain is a process of continual improvement. Working to put the right steps and measures in place takes effort. But the downside risk to a brand when things go bad can sometimes be too much to recover from. Too often, a public relations department is left scrambling after unfortunate events such as this one in Bangladesh, and in 2013 we are still hearing far too often of families left destitute and grieving.

Reeve Consulting is a boutique consultancy that helps clients enhance their brand, their profitability, and their social license by working with them to strategically re-think how they approach the ethical and environmental issues affecting their supply chain.

Due North: Strengthening Green & Sustainable Purchasing in the Yukon

Flickr / Arthur Chapman

Various orders of government in the Yukon are committed to reducing the environmental impact of their operations by designing and implementing customized environmental and sustainability policies, projects and programs.

To this end, the Yukon Intergovernmental Committee on Environmental Sustainability (YICES) is focused on identifying opportunities for collaboration to advance a collective sustainability agenda and strengthen individual programs. Recently Reeve Consulting worked with YICES to plan, organize and facilitate a sustainable purchasing workshop in Whitehorse.

Held on October 27th the full-day workshop attracted more than 50 participants, including government staff from four orders of government (federal, territorial, municipal and First Nations) as well as participants from other major organizations in the North such as NorthwesTel, Yukon Energy Corporation and Yukon College.

With a focus on increasing support and skills for green and sustainable purchasing, as well as catalyzing a network between various levels of government to strengthen sustainability initiatives, a key outcome of the event was the high degree of enthusiasm that participants demonstrated for collaboration.

Workshop Highlights

The day kicked-off with a welcoming address from Mike Johnson, Deputy Minister, Highways and Public Works for the Yukon Government who highlighted the importance of sustainable purchasing to the Territories strategic objectives of reducing costs, improving services and infrastructure. Johnson contextualized his remarks with the effects of climate change on the North and the millions being spent to repair highways and roads as a result of permafrost break-up.

Key drivers for sustainable purchasing were highlighted in the first session of the day, with a clear overview of the business case and level of support required to develop a successful sustainable purchasing program. Speakers David Knight, Manager, Procurement Services for Highways and Public Works in the Yukon and Melissa Hall, Procurement Advisor, Corporate Services for Aboriginal Affairs  & Northern Development Canada, made compelling cases around how sustainable purchasing is helping to take advantage of eco-efficiencies associated with reduced packaging, product take-back and reduced greenhouse gas emissions – issues critical to northern communities were transportation costs can be at a premium.

To walk the talk, Reeve Consulting worked with organizers to have Madelaine Plouffe, Green Procurement Team Leader with Public Works Government Services Canada in Gatineau, Quebec provide a lunchtime keynote address via video conferencing technology that allowed for a live and interactive presentation.

A preliminary review of the evaluations shows that participants were very pleased with the event. To build on this momentum, YICES is now working on outlining future workshops.

Environment Yukon has linked to many of the presentations from the day on their homepage. Slides from Reeve Consulting’s presentations [PDF] are also available online.

Talking strategy with City of Whitehorse & the Arctic Winter Games

While in Whitehorse, Tim Reeve also took the opportunity to continue some strategic planning with the City of Whitehorse on the development of their environmental sustainable purchasing policy.

Tim also had the opportunity to stop by the offices of the Arctic Winter Games to meet with organizers and offer some thoughts on how they can achieve zero waste goals for the Games in March 2012.

Sustainable Supply Chains Tops Fall Dialogue Agenda

Whether it’s Apple’s recent woes around supply chain or new innovations at LEGO around sustainable packaging it’s clear that sustainable purchasing and sustainable supply chains continue to be hot topics.

Retailers, sport organizations, major brands and all levels of government want to use the potential of sustainable purchasing to drive key business strategies around supplier engagement, eco-efficiency, social responsibility, brand, employee engagement and risk. With this recognition, industry professionals are looking for the latest trends and key insights on sustainable supply chains.

This fall, a number of high profile Canadian events are addressing this need, inviting professionals to come together to discuss their experiences, learn from leading experts and initiate the dialogue key to navigating this complex field. At Reeve Consulting, we’re looking forward to continuing to contribute to these conversations and hear first hand from thought leaders and innovators.

Green with Envy Radio Show, September 15 @ 10:00 AM


Join us for the Green with Envy radio show at 10:00AM PST on September 15. Of particular interest to sports organizations, we’ll be discussing sustainable sport supply chains with host Peter ter Weeme and Ann Duffy, former Director of Sustainability for Vancouver 2010 and Principal of the Ann Duffy Group.

We’re also headed to two major conferences, which we encourage you to consider attending if you’re in the Toronto or Vancouver area.

International Symposium on Supply Chain Management, September 18-20, Toronto 


Hosted by the Purchasing Management Association of Canada, this annual two-day symposium invites academic researchers and supply chain leaders to review, research, share ideas and develop solutions to critical supply chain issues.

An innovative and inspiring event featuring thought-leaders from around the world, we’re looking forward to lively exchanges of information and experience.

The morning of September 20, Tim will be providing attendees with a closer look at the development of the Sochi 2014 BuySmart Program as a case study in sport organization sustainability. The session will be of particular interest to attendees concerned with how such a program can support brand building, reduce environmental impacts, promote responsible business and improve employee engagement.

Conference on Environmental, Social and Governance Issues, October 3-4, Vancouver


Presented by the Chartered Accountants of Canada, this two-day event will focus on current environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues relevant to directors, corporate leaders, senior management and business advisors looking to manage risk, report effectively and take advantage of emerging opportunities.

Tim will be moderating a panel discussion titled Sustainable Supply Chain: How ESG may impact your supply chain or you as a supplier. The session will feature presenters from Mountain Equipment Co-op and WorkSafe BC with the aim of helping attendees understand how to manage supply chain risks and seize opportunities around their brand and sustainability.

The practitioner-based panel session and ensuing conversation will focus on ‘real world’ examples and practical insights targeted at senior level business leaders interested in how the supply chain can be a key lever point for corporate sustainability programs as well as how risks and opportunities can have major impacts on business strategies, financial results, employee engagement and customer relationships

Environmental and Sustainable Purchasing Workshop, October 18, Whitehorse


We’re also keen to find out how the field of sustainable purchasing is progressing in the North of the country and will be headed to Whitehorse in mid-October to deliver the Environmental and Sustainable Purchasing Workshop.

Drawing representatives from four levels of government – federal, territorial, municipal and aboriginal – this workshop will focus on trends and best practices in the field of sustainable purchasing and how to apply basic tools to engage with existing vendors to maximize environmental outcomes.

Working with a local steering committee, our aim is to explore ways to expand sustainable purchasing in the North and build the capacity of purchasing staff.

Stay tuned for local purchasing event details


Finally, we’re looking forward to a Vancouver-based event at the end of October being organized by LOCOBC and the BuySmart Network focused on local purchasing.

Check back for details as they become available.

Social Accountability 8000 training session postponed

Flickr / *Micky

A few weeks ago we posted a blog inviting you to join us for an SA8000 training session in Vancouver at the end of August. However, due to unforeseen circumstances, this session has been postponed until late fall/early winter 2011. The new dates will be announced by Social Accountability International (SAI) shortly.

The date of the associated networking event, organized by Reeve Consulting, will also be shifted to take place during the re-scheduled SA8000 training week.

Details will be announced here as they become available so please check back. If you’d like more information in the meantime, please contact Kevin McCarty at kevin@reeveconsulting.com

Who do you want to hear from? Call for guest speaker suggestions

Reeve Consulting is partnering with Social Accountability International to deliver SA8000 training, August 22-26 at SFUSocial Accountability International (SAI) Harbourfront in Vancouver.

A fantastic opportunity to develop your expertise in managing CSR initiatives, SA8000 is the leading global social accountability standard for decent working conditions and labour rights. This week-long training will provide practical knowledge on the main issues of social auditing and performance and is targeted at a wide audience including sustainability directors, brand managers, auditors, NGO and government staff, among others.

fork, knife, spoon

Flickr / Tanel Peets

In conjunction with the training, we’ll be hosting a dinner and networking event on August 25.  The event will include a guest speaker who will share their extensive experience in global supply chain compliance and implementation of supplier codes of conduct.

In preparation for this networking event, we’re requesting your input:

If there were one person we could bring to Vancouver this year to speak about responsible sourcing, ethical consumerism and sustainable supply chains, who would you like to hear from?

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All answers will be kept private to the Reeve Consulting team.

Thank you in advance for your input!

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.