In April 2019 Ethical Consumer sent One Village a questionnaire requesting information about its supply chain management, among other issues. In May 2019 it emailed additional questions. For its supply chain management policy the company referred to its working principles and contractual obligations of suppliers as stated in its order endpage. On its website a section on Fair Trade was found.
Supply chain policy (good)
The company’s working principles included the following supply chain policy standards:
1. All articles come from partner enterprises which strive to build up the quality of life of the community. These enterprises are workers' associations or cooperatives, societies for the common good, or are generally accountable to the community.
7. All producers are paid equitably a realistic rate for the job which, as a minimum, takes account of the local cost of living and the skill involved.
8. Working hours and the work environment are consistent with the wellbeing of producers.
In its answers to the additional questions the company added: “We only purchase directly from NGOs, small societies, workers cooperatives who share our values as essential parts of their purpose. They are all very small-scale affairs; a few of them (larger ones) are audited members of WFTO. I suppose you could say that we rely on self-certification, which is actually how WFTO generally operates, on top of which our close contact and visits also help. We are not sourcing from industrial-scale enterprises, or regular commercial businesses, but only with organizations set up for the common good. Our relationships are long-term and based on principles of partnership. Within One Village, which is itself a small company, we are members of the Living Wage Foundation and are committed at least to meeting the minimum pay levels they set. The work environment for our co-workers is very good.”
In its website section on Fair Trade the company said that it followed the FINE definition and principles of Fair Trade and the standards set by IFAT, which became the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) in 2008. One Village was not listed as a member on the WFTO website but according to its response to the additional questions, several of its larger members are audited members of the WFTO. Smaller suppliers were said to self-certify that they adhered to the company’s standards. One Village monitored this self-certification through its close and long-term relationships and visits with suppliers.
A strong policy would include the following commitments: no use of forced labour, permission of freedom of association, payment of a living wage, the restriction of working hours to 48 hours plus 12 overtime (without exception), no use of a child labour (under 15 or 14 if ILO exempt), no discrimination by race, sex or for any other reason. WFTO/IFAT standards, FINE’s fair trade definition and principles and One Villages working principles covered all these criteria. Therefore One Village's supply chain management was considered to be good.
Stakeholder engagement (poor)
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. One Village had none of these and therefore its stakeholder engagement was considered to be poor.
Auditing and Reporting (poor)
In its response to the additional questions the company stated that several of its larger suppliers were audited members of the WFTO. Smaller suppliers self-certified that they adhered to the company’s standards. One Village monitored this self-certification through its close and long-term relationships and visits with suppliers.
Ethical Consumer 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 their 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. One Village had none of these and therefore its auditing and reporting was considered to be poor.
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. One Village had a preference for long-term suppliers but addressed no other difficult issues. Therefore its approach to difficult issues was considered to be rudimentary.
Although One Villages supply chain policy was considered good, its stakeholder engagement and auditing and reporting were considered poor and its approach to difficult issues rudimentary, its first tier suppliers were all small-scale producers that shared its fair trade goals and practices. Several of the larger suppliers were audited by the WFTO and smaller supplier self-certified that they adhered to the company’s standards. One Village therefore received an exemption for being a small company (turnover below £10.2m) with an effective if not explicit practice and received Ethical Consumer's best rating for Supply Chain Management.
www.onevillage.org (15 May 2019)