In March 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed Suma’s completed questionnaire for information about its Supply Chain Management. It provided a link to its modern slavery statement.
A questionnaire received from Suma March 2019 was also viewed, along with a number of the company's policy documents.
Supply chain policy (good)
The company's supplier questionnaire stated that Suma expected suppliers to comply with the Ethical Trading Initiative Base Code and included adequate clauses prohibiting forced and child labour and discrimination; requiring freedom of association and payment of a living wage; and limiting working hours to 48 a week plus 12 hours overtime. It also stated: "We ask that you hold your suppliers to the same standards, and are prepared to demonstrate due diligence in your supply chain" and was therefore considered to apply to the whole supply chain. Suma was considered to have a good supply chain policy.
Stakeholder engagement (poor)
In response to Ethical Consumer's question about multi-stakeholder initiatives and whether Suma had systematic input from NGO, NFP or Trade Unions into its labour standards within its supply chain, Suma replied that it was / had: "Worker coop, union branch onsite, SEDEX members."
Ethical Consumer 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. Companies were also expected to engage with Trade Unions, NGOs and/or not-for-profit organisations which could systematically 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.
It was considered to have poor stakeholder engagement overall.
Auditing and reporting (reasonable)
In response to Ethical Consumer's question about auditing and reporting, Suma stated: "We have an audit schedule, we disclose results [...] we pay for audits of our suppliers. Our ethical questionnaire forms part of our contract with suppliers. Several of our Suma brand suppliers send us SMETA audit reports." Its Ethical Supplier Questionnaire also contained a section on "Section C – Sourcing From Your Suppliers", which asked about the suppliers due diligence process. Suma's auditing was therefore considered to cover tier 2 suppliers. However, it has not published its audit schedule or results.
It also stated: "We try to work with suppliers where we discover that they are falling short of our expectations. We have given assistance in the form of loans (for new equipment), training, documentation review etc. We have also delisted lines, and ceased trading with suppliers where these efforts have not yielded the required results."
It was considered to have reasonable auditing and reporting overall.
Difficult issues (rudimentary)
Ethical Consumer also deemed it necessary for companies to address other difficult issues in their supply chain. This would include ongoing training for agents, or rewards for suppliers, or preference for long term suppliers. It would also include acknowledgement of audit fraud and unannounced audits, and other measures taken to address the issue of living wages, particularly among outworkers, and illegal freedom of association. Suma stated: "We have long relationships with our suppliers, and give preference to worker coops. We try to work with suppliers where we discover that they are falling short of our expectations. We have given assistance in the form of loans (for new equipment), training, documentation review etc." This was considered a preference for long term suppliers.
The company also stated, "We have an annual CIPS membership, which we pay for out of the Buyers Training Budget. One of our buyers is a Mistress of the Chartered Institute of Purchase & Supply, has gained levels 4, 5, and 6 of their training qualifications, and attends branch events. Other buyers are currently doing the training too. Several of the buying & compliance teams have done courses on Slavery in the supply chain." It was therefore considered to have addressed one difficult issue in terms of purchasing.
It was considered to have a rudimentary approach to difficult issues overall.
Suma received Ethical Consumer's best rating for Supply Chain Management overall and did not lose any marks in this category.
2019 Questionnaire (11 March 2019)