In March 2020, Ethical Consumer viewed Colgate-Palmolive’s ‘Third Party Code of Conduct’ document and its ‘Sustainability’ webpages. Ethical Consumer were looking to understand how the company approached managing workers’ rights in its supply chain.
Supply Chain Policy (poor)
The company’s Third Party Code of Conduct contained adequate clauses on forced labour, discrimination and freedom of association. It did not: define the age below which a person is considered a child for purposes of employment; make reference to paying a living wage to suppliers' employees; or limit a working week to 48 hours and 12 hours overtime. The company was considered to have a poor supply chain policy.
Stakeholder Engagement (poor)
The company’s Third Party Code of Conduct did not include any evidence that: a) the company was a member of the Ethical Trading Initiative, the Fair Labor Association, or Social Accountability International; b) there was systematic input from NGOs or labour organisations or not-for-profit organisations in the verification of audits on labour standards; c) supplier employees could provide anonymous feedback on working conditions to Colgate at no cost to them and in their first language, although there was an EthicsLine for direct employees including an email which could be used for questions regarding the Third Party Code of Conduct. Colgate-Palmolive was considered to have a poor approach to stakeholder engagement.
Auditing and Reporting (poor)
The company’s Sustainability webpages stated, "Through the use of a supplier risk assessment scorecard, selected suppliers and business partners are scored against critical risk factors to determine the need to conduct a social compliance audit. When a supplier is assessed as high risk, a third-party audit of its facility is required. To date, there are currently 550 suppliers and service providers in the program and 46% have conducted a social compliance audit."
It did not disclose audit results or a detailed schedule. It was not clear if all of Colgate’s suppliers would be included in this process, or whether the costs of the audit would be borne by Colgate. Consequently, Colgate was considered to have a poor approach Auditing and Reporting.
Difficult Issues (poor)
Ethical Consumer did not consider that the company addressed difficult issues in supply chain management such as ongoing, scheduled training for buyers on labour standards, a systematic approach to audit fraud, the question of workers receiving living wages or to problems stemming from the employment of homeworkers or sub-contactors in the supply chain. Consequently, Colgate was awarded the lowest rating in Difficult Issues.
Overall, Colgate received Ethical Consumer's worst rating for Supply Chain Management and lost a whole mark in this category.
https://www.colgatepalmolive.com/en-us/core-values/sustainability (9 March 2020)