As the relevant webpages had not been updated when viewed in January 2020, no update has been made to this reference. In September 2019 Ethical Consumer searched the Tesco PLC website for information regarding its supply chain management. A number of web pages were viewed including 'Our Approach to Human Rights' dated 11/4/19; Modern Slavery Statement 2018/19.
Supply chain policy (good)
The ‘Our Approach to Human Rights’ stated that the company was committed to upholding human rights and fully support the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Labour Organization Core Conventions and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
It stated that the company expected all its suppliers to meet the standards set out under the Ethical Trading Initiative Base Code, of which Tesco was a member. It listed some but not all the standards, including adequate clauses on freedom of association, prevention of discrimination and forced labour. The company’s Modern Slavery Statement contained a link to the ETI website. The standards included adequate clauses on freedom of association, living wage, hours in a working week, prevention of discrimination, child labour and forced labour.
Stakeholder engagement (good)
The ‘Our Approach to Human Rights’ stated that the company had developed a ‘due diligence’ approach to managing supply chain issues; stating that it consulted over fifty internal and external stakeholders, including suppliers, multi-stakeholder bodies such as the Ethical Trading Initiative, civil society groups such as Unseen, Oxfam and the Ethical Tea Partnership, and Government bodies. High risk areas of the company’s supply chain were identified through this process, and were used to target and reduce risk. Ongoing dialogue with NGOs, trade unions, multi-stakeholder groups and other organisations was said to be a key part of this due diligence process and Tesco reported annually to the Ethical Trading Initiative regarding its performance against its plan, risks and trends. The report was then said to be scrutinised by Trade Union and NGO members of ETI (members include the Trades Union Congress, Oxfam and Anti-Slavery International) and feedback was provided to help Tesco PLC review and improve. This human rights supply chain programme was said to cover everything sourced for own label, including Tesco-exclusive brands, services and goods.
It stated that workers in Tesco’s ‘first tier’ supply base had access to an independently managed Protector Line. Workers in lower tiers could also use the line and all concerns were said to be investigated, but it was not communicated directly to these workers. Protector Line was said to be promoted in the relevant language. Complaints were kept confidential. It also stated that provided a dedicated, confidential helpline for any internal staff concerned about ethical trade issues.
Tesco was considered to have a good approach to stakeholder engagement.
Auditing and reporting (rudimentary)
A webpage was viewed, titled 'Our approach to Human Rights'. The page stated: "Ethical auditing is predominantly focused on the ‘first tier’ of the supply chain, i.e. sites producing the final product, such as a clothing factory or food manufacturing plant. High risk sites must have an audit before supply and then on an annual basis." This was considered a scheduled auditing work plan based on risk assessment.
"We also audit beyond first-tier based on the risk of the products being produced. Announcing the date of audits to suppliers in advance helps ensure that all necessary records are present for inspection during the audit and helps build ownership of ethical issues by the supplier’s management team."
The company was considered to have a transparent audit plan but not one which applied to the whole supply chain, including some second tier suppliers, and which had a clear schedule. Ethical Consumer expected the company to bear the costs of the audit, however Tesco PLC did not discuss this.
The webpage also outlined a staged policy for non-compliance, including requiring an independent audit to ensure that the supplier had completed all actions in its Corrective Actions Plan. Although audit reports were mentioned, no audit results were published.
The company’s audit plan was scheduled and included a stage policy for non-compliance, but did not cover its entire supply chain and results were not disclosed and the costs clearly borne by the company. Tesco was considered to have a rudimentary approach to auditing and reporting overall.
Difficult issues (reasonable)
Ethical Consumer deemed it necessary for companies to address other difficult issues in their supply chains. 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 measures taken to address the issue of living wages, particularly among outworkers, and illegal freedom of association.
Tesco PLC discussed its approach to developing long-term, stable relationships with suppliers, particularly in certain sectors, for example bananas. It also discussed the use of semi-announced audits to avoid audit fraud.
The 'Our Approach to Human Rights' also stated, "We have incorporated effective worker representation as the third theme in our revised human rights strategy, recognising input from stakeholders including global trade unions and our experience of working to remove barriers to effective worker representation in our supply chains. In sites where there is no trade union affiliation, we seek to ensure all our suppliers have independent, democratically elected worker committees."
The company was considered to have a reasonable approach to difficult issues overall.
Overall Tesco PLC received Ethical Consumer's best rating for Supply Chain Management.
https://www.tescoplc.com (25 September 2019)