In July 2019 Ethical Consumer viewed Oxfam's Ethical and Environmental Policy, dated July 2018.
It stated, "Oxfam GB takes responsibility for and is committed to managing the labour and environmental standards in its operations and supply chains."
Supply chain policy (good)
Ethical Consumer considered Oxfam to have a good supply chain policy due to the fact it had adequate clauses on all six of the International Labour Organisation's conventions: working hours, living wages, child labour, forced labour, freedom of association and employment free from discrimination.
Stakeholder engagement (rudimentary)
Oxfam was a member of the multi-stakeholder initiative, the Ethical Trade Initiative. In response to a questionnaire sent to Oxfam in 2018 it stated "Almost all food products are Fairtrade or WFTO certified (small exception made for some food lines made using waste food products) In addition to this preference is given to leading Fairtrade suppliers whose business models give more power to workers 80% of our food sales come from these suppliers (Traidcraft, Divine, Café Direct, Tropical Wholefoods, Zaytoun)."
Due to the work Oxfam did supporting third party certification schemes in particular Fairtrade it was considered to have a reasonable approach to stakeholder engagement.
In 2019 a repsonse to a questionnaire about clothing Oxfam stated that, "As an NGO, Oxfam GB advises other companies on labour standards in their supply chains. As part of our campaign work with the private sector we are actively involved with MSIs such as the Better Strawberries Group and Malawi Tea 2020.
In our own supply chains we haven’t identified any relevant MSIs but would be keen to take part. We actively engage with other retailers and trade unions through the ETI and Sedex stakeholder events. And we also worked with Community Union to run a training day for suppliers in our promotional supply chain, to see if we could encourage more freedom of association at these sites."
Auditing and reporting (rudimentary)
Oxfam stated, "We carry out thorough checks on our manufacturing sites using third-party audits to ensure suppliers are abiding by both our Ethical and Environmental Policy, ETI Base code, local labour laws and the Fairtrade/WFTO principles (where certification is applicable).." However no details were given regarding its auditing schedule or details of audit results. As a result it was considered to have a poor approach to auditing and reporting.
Difficult issues (good)
Oxfam had worked with many of its suppliers for a long time - helping them to build sucessful businesses and reinvesting 100% of the profits back to people enabling them to overcome poverty. It stated "Oxfam shops pioneered the idea of fair trade back in the 1960s. Paying people a fair and decent price for the goods they produce, and giving workers a say in the future of their company."
In 2019 Oxfam stated that, "We have a global grievance procedure for staff and managers, along with a whistleblowing mechanism and a confidential employee assistance programme. The Oxfam Joint Trade Union Shop (OJTUS) unions are available to support workers through the grievance process along with HR. The grievance guidelines are based on the procedures of the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) and were reviewed recently in consultation with the unions.
In March 2018, Oxfam GB launched a new third party, independent whistleblowing hotline and case management system, hosted by NAVEX Global. This can be used by anyone connected to our work to report concerns relating to safeguarding, modern slavery, bullying, harassment and corruption. Anyone using this system can remain anonymous and phone operatives are available in multiple languages. "
Ethical Consumer considered Oxfam to have a good apporach to difficult issues within supply chains.
Email to Tim (23 July 2019)