Commercial talk Ethical Supply chain with South West Insider
In a recent article published in South West Business Insider, reporter Miri Thomas looks at how The Modern Slavery Act has changed and the impact that the new regulations will have on businesses.
The new regulations introduced to the modern Slavery Act affect all companies based in the UK with a turnover of £36m or more. The rules also apply to UK subsidiaries of foreign businesses, even if the UK turnover is less than £36m. At first sight the change does not seem to be onerous. But dig a little deeper and there’s a lot of work to be done behind the scenes to prepare for it.
One company ahead of the curve is Commercial, based in Cheltenham. While turnover this financial year comes under the threshold, the company is taking steps to prepare its statement for financial year 2016/17, when it expects to exceed £36m.
It is using an Ethical Procurement’ document to audit its supply chain and is working with the Ethical Trade Initiative (ETI) to build an understanding of what impact the legislation has on its business. Jacqui Wynds, supplier partner manager, says the early start has been driven by larger customers who want assurances: “Brand risk is important to them, so we’re auditing the people we work with.”
Wynds was surprised when contacting some larger companies requesting details on their supply chain to be presented with their existing corporate social responsibility document (CSR). “I don’t think people are that aware of the requirements. I would look elsewhere if my supplier admitted it didn’t take steps to check its supply chain.”
Supply chains are getting complex, and companies have to start somewhere. With Commercial, the start point is its immediate ‘tier one’ UK-based suppliers and any direct overseas suppliers. “We have an own-brand laser toner, which is produced in Romania,” says Wynds, who is planning a factory visit to do an audit. Cindy Berman, head of knowledge and learning for the ETI, adds: “Beyond audits, companies should be thinking about their business models and map their supply chains. They should have visibility of everyone supplying them.” She advocates collaboration between companies that use the same supplier. “Yes, there may be commercial sensitivities, but you have to show you’re taking steps and accepting responsibility.”
Commercial Group is committed to its environmental agenda since launching its manifesto in 2006. The company has won a number of accolades in recognition of its leadership in sustainability and celebrates annually with a Corporate Social Responsibility Day, which is taking place this year on the 16th June. Click here to register www.csrday.co.uk
For further information on our CSR values visit our sustainability page.