In August 2018 Ethical Consumer sent Better World Books a questionnaire requesting information about its supply chain management policies and practices. The company responded and the following information was provided:
SUPPLY CHAIN POLICY - POOR
Qumpus/Better World Books does not have a supply chain policy.
Ethical Consumer deemed it necessary for all companies to have a supply chain policy. A strong policy would include the following commitments: no use of a child under 15 (or 14 if ILO exempt), no use of forced labour, no discrimination by race, sex or for any other reason, permit freedom of association, pay a living wage, restrict working hours to 48 hours plus 12 overtime (ideally specifying these hours and that this is without exception). Qumpus/Better World Books' supply chain policy was therefore considered to be poor.
STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT - POOR
Qumpus/Better World Books was not involved in a multi-stakeholder initiative.
Ethical Consumer also deemed it necessary for companies to demonstrate stakeholder engagement, such as through membership of the Ethical Trade Initiative, Fair Labour Association or Social Accountability International. It is also constructive for Trade Unions, NGOs and/or not-for-profit organisations to have systematic input to verify the company's supply chain audits, and for workers to have access to an anonymous complaints system, free of charge and in their own language. Better World Books had none of these things, therefore its stakeholder engagement was considered to be poor.
AUDITING AND REPORTING - POOR
"We do not have a formal audit program. However, we conduct routine site visits to our largest suppliers and we utilize our customer and client feedback to make changes to our service providers and material suppliers."
Ethical Consumer also deemed it necessary for companies to have an auditing and reporting system. Results of audits should be publicly reported and quantitatively analysed. The company should have a scheduled and transparent audit plan that applies to its whole supply chain, including some second tier suppliers. The company should also have a staged policy for non-compliance. The costs of the audit should be borne by the company. Better World Books had none of these things, therefore its auditing and reporting was considered to be poor.
DIFFICULT ISSUES - POOR
"Better World Books seeks vendors that meet our sustainability standards. In addition, most non-production positions at BWB are permitted to work from home or work remotely. The company completes an annual audit led by RSM US LLP, which is ranked the fifth largest accounting, tax and consulting services firm in the U.S. In addition, B Labs completed their onsite audit of BWB in July 2018." It was not clear what difficult issues these measures were intended to address. Qumpus/Better World books' approach to difficult issues was therefore considered to be poor.
Since Qumpus/Better World Books' supply chain policy, stakeholder engagement, auditing and reporting, and approach to difficult issues were all considered poor, the company received Ethical Consumer's worst rating for Supply Chain Management.
https://www.betterworldbooks.com (9 August 2018)