In January 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed John Lewis’s corporate website for the company’s supply chain management policy. Ethical Consumer also accessed John Lewis’s 2015/16, 2016/17 and 2018/2019 Human Rights & Modern Slavery Reports.
Supply chain policy (good)
The John Lewis Partnership Responsible Sourcing Code of Practice (dated January 2017) was viewed which covered all six International Labour Organisations standards including wages on which it stated “Wages shall always be sufficient for basic needs whilst still providing some discretionary income.” The Code was applicable to all suppliers providing own brand goods and workers covered by the policy included those who were temporarily employed. Overall John Lewis was considered to have good supply chain policy.
Stakeholder engagement (rudimentary)
A questionnaire response received by Ethical Consumer in July 2019 had stated "We are members of the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), ILO Better Work Programme and The Bangladesh Accord on Fire & Building Safety". The ETI is a multistakeholder initiative. On its website it stated that both John Lewis and Waitrose were involved in many different groups aimed at improving workers’ rights and lessening environmental impacts within their supply chains, these included Stronger Together and Fast Forward. However, these groups did not appear to amount to systematic third-party verification of supply chain audits. The questionnaire asked whether John Lewis had a complaints procedure that employees throughout the supply chain could use to regularly and anonymously report incidents to John Lewis for free and in their own language. John Lewis outlined a number of programmes it had to increase engagement with workers in its supply chain but these did not amount to the afore mentioned criteria. As a result John Lewis Group received a rudimentary rating for its stakeholder engagement.
Auditing and reporting (rudimentary)
In its questionnaire response John Lewis stated: "All factories manufacturing products for John Lewis are required to carry out an ethical audit. The audits are paid for by our suppliers and are conducted by third-party approved consultancy firms with appropriate experience and expertise. All audit reports are sent to the supplier, along with the corrective action plan listing the improvements recommended that the site carry out to ensure they meet legal requirements of their country or international law. We monitor the factories to ensure they complete these action plans and close out any issues that were identified. " It also provided a link to its Modern Slavery Report 2018/19. This stated that "Waitrose & Partners take a risk-based approach to determining where audits are required. " Overall the John Lewis Group received a rudimentary rating for auditing and reporting. This was because there didn’t seem to be a clear schedule of audits, disclosure or analysis of results of the audits or mention who paid for audits - a questionnaire response in December 2019 stated "The audits are paid for by our suppliers".
Difficult issues (reasonable)
The John Lewis Group’s Human Rights & Modern Slavery Report 2018/19 stated: "All John Lewis & Partners supplier-facing Partners must complete mandator y responsible sourcing e-learning on an annual basis. The course is reviewed continuously and includes specific training on modern slavery". It also stated more in depth and specific training was provided to relevant staff. It also stated that "All Partners in our Central Procurement Department have successfully completed Corporate Ethical Procurement and Supply Certification (CIPS)"
John Lewis Partnership's Responsible Sourcing Code of Practice acknowledged difficulties for Freedom of Association, stating: 'Where the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining is restricted under law, the employer facilitates, and does not hinder, the development of parallel means for independent and free association and bargaining.' Overall the John Lewis Group was considered to have a reasonable approach to difficult issues.
John Lewis Partnership received Ethical Consumer's best rating for supply chain management.
Ethical Consumer Magazine Questionnaire 2019 (8 August 2019)