In February 2020, Ethical Consumer sent Neal's Yard Remedies a company questionnaire, asking for details of how it ensured workers' rights in its supply chain. The company did not reply. Therefore Ethical Consumer used publicly available information, predominately the company’s 2017 annual communication to the UN Global Compact, to assess Neal’s Yard’s approach to the following issues.

Supply chain policy (poor)
Neal’s Yard’s latest Global Compact Annual Communication on Progress, dated 2017, stated: "In 2015, we have added additional ethical clauses to our Supplier Contracts, covering the following points:
The Supplier undertakes to the Customer that it shall ensure that the production and manufacturing of the products takes place in such work places:
1.1.1 that apply a standard of ethical treatment in relation to their workers;
1.1.2 where workers are not paid less than the statutory minimum for the country in which they are employed;
1.1.3 where working conditions are safe and hygienic;
1.1.4 where no worker employed is under 16 years old;
1.1.5 where the workers’ presence in the workplace is voluntary and not as the result of any direct or indirect coercion;
1.1.6 where no harsh or inhumane treatment is allowed; and
1.1.7 where the workers’ rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining are respected.
The revised contracts were sent to our top 20 suppliers (by value) in 2015, and have now been implemented in our standard terms of business, used for all new suppliers."

Neal’s Yard was considered to have a poor supply chain policy as its contracts did not seem to include freedom from discrimination, limit working hours or guarantee payment of a living wage.

Stakeholder engagement (rudimentary)
The company stated that its aim was to source 100% of its natural ingredients from suppliers who were certified by Fairtrade Foundation, Fair for Life or FairWild. It also used mainly organic ingredients. Neal’s Yard therefore had ongoing verification of labour standards within much of its supply chain. However, this did not cover all ingredients. The company did not appear to be part of a multi-stakeholder initiative nor did it have a complaints mechanism for workers to report violations within its supply chain.

Auditing and reporting (poor)
The company stated in its Global Compact communication that it, “regularly visit international growers and wild harvesting projects, conducting an audit though observation and direct conversations with workers." It also stated that it was aiming for all of its ingredients to be certified organic and Fairtrade. Due to the fact Neal’s Yard did not have a schedule of audits based on risk, disclosure of audit results, cost of audits or remediation strategy it was considered to have a poor rating for auditing and reporting.

Difficult issues (rudimentary)
Neal's Yard stated: "We want all of our suppliers and their suppliers to benefit from doing business with us, and aim to develop strong, mutually respectful, long-term relationships in order to build a robust and resilient supply chain. We do this through supporting organic farming, sustainable wild-harvesting and fairtrade programs in our supply chain as well as maintaining excellent levels of communication and placing annual commitments with producers."

The company therefore demonstrated that it had a preference for long term relationships with its suppliers and received a rudimentary rating for its approach to difficult issues.

Neal’s Yard received Ethical Consumer's best rating for supply chain management as it was given a medium size company exemption for having an effective if not explicit policy at addressing workers' rights within its supply chain.

Reference:

UN Global Compact Annual Communication (2017)

In February 2020, Ethical Consumer viewed Neal's Yard Remedies' international website and found that the company had stores in Israel, Philippines and Mexico. At the time of writing Ethical Consumer considered these countries to be governed by oppressive regimes. As such the company lost half a mark under Human Rights.

Reference:

www.nealsyardremedies.com (10 February 2020)

In February 2020, Ethical Consumer viewed the Neal's Yard website and saw that it sold some cotton towels that were made from 100% certified organic cotton.

According to Anti-Slavery International (ASI) website viewed by Ethical Consumer in August 2018, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan were two of the world’s largest exporters of cotton, and every year their governments forcibly mobilised over one million citizens to grow and harvest cotton.

The Organic Trade Association website, www.ota.com, stated in July 2018 that cotton covered roughly 2.78% of global arable land, but accounted for 12.34% of all insecticide sales and 3.94% of herbicide sales.

According to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), a non-profit pro biotech organisation, genetically modified cotton accounted for 80% of cotton grown in 2017.

As the company only used certified organic cotton, it likely to have avoided these issues; overall the company received Ethical Consumer's best rating for its cotton sourcing policy.

Reference:

www.nealsyardremedies.com (10 February 2020)