In March 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed a questionnaire returned by Lush, and the company's 'People Care, EarthCare & Fair Share Buying Policy 2019' for information on how the company managed workers' rights in its supply chain.
The policy stated, "We require everyone in our supply chain (all direct and indirect suppliers of raw materials and packaging products and their subcontractors) to share and adhere to these policies."
Supply chain policy (rudimentary)
Lush had adequate policies on the following: forced labour, freedom of association, child labour and discrimination.
The company stated: "Working hours may exceed 60 hours in any seven-day period only in exceptional circumstances where all of the following are met: this is allowed by national law; this is allowed by a collective agreement freely negotiated with a workers’ organisation representing a significant portion of the workforce; appropriate safeguards are taken to protect the workers’ health and safety; and the employer can demonstrate that exceptional circumstances apply such as unexpected production peaks, accidents or emergencies." In circumstances where a company was a member of the Ethical Trade Initiative (ETI), Ethical Consumer would consider such a clause adequate. However, as Lush was not a member of the ETI, Ethical Consumer considered this clause inadequate.
The company did not have an adequate clause regarding the payment of living wages.
Overall, Lush was considered to have a rudimentary supply chain policy.
Stakeholder engagement (poor)
In its questionnaire, Lush stated that it was not part of a multi-stakeholder initiative, but it did ensure that "all buyers globally receive training from the ETI", although it is not an ETI member. It also stated, "Where there are materials or areas that are of concern, we will look to utilise external expertise if needed.'
However, none of the information provided was considered by Ethical Consumer to be adequate stakeholder engagement.
Ethical Consumer deemed it necessary for companies to demonstrate stakeholder engagement, such as through membership of the Ethical Trade Initiative, Fair Labour Association or Social Accountability International. Companies were also expected to engage with Trade Unions, NGOs and/or not-for-profit organisations which could systematically verify the company's supply chain audits, and for workers to have access to an anonymous complaints system, free of charge and in their own language.
Overall, Lush was considered to have poor stakeholder engagement.
Auditing and Reporting (poor)
In it's questionnaire, Lush stated that it did not commission third party audits as standard. "Wherever possible we look to create long term relationships directly with suppliers, growers and producers, visiting them ... to see first hand the working conditions."
Lush stated that it was in the processing of developing a new system which is a supplier engagement management and responsible sourcing platform. The system would allow for internal auditing, as well as potentially for external auditing.
Lush had a staged policy for supplier non-compliance.
Ethical Consumer deemed it necessary for companies to have an auditing and reporting system. Results of audits should be publicly reported and quantitatively analysed. The company should have a scheduled and transparent audit plan that applies to their whole supply chain, including some second tier suppliers. The costs of the audit should be borne by the company.
Lush only had adequate policies addressing one of the above clauses. It was therefore considered to have a poor auditing and reporting.
Difficult issues (reasonable)
Ethical Consumer also 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.
Lush provided ongoing training on supply chain issues for buyers, and also aimed to create long standing relationships with suppliers.
As cocoa is known to be a high risk commodity in terms of labour rights, Lush only buys Fair Trade, Organic certified cocoa.
Lush had policies around the problem of zero-hour contracts: "There shall be no zero-hour contracts unless it is the preferred choice of the employee"
Lush had policies to address the potential problems of homeworking. (These policies had been devised in the instance of a cooperative supplier wanting to implement some forms of homeworking): "We accept the presence of homeworking and subcontracting within our supply chain where mutually agreed. We want to work with our suppliers to ensure good labour conditions in our supply chains. We ask our suppliers to communicate this policy to all homeworkers / subcontractors and to declare to Lush where homeworking / subcontracting occurs in supply chains."
Regarding modern slavery, Lush stated that in 2020 it would undergo Stronger Together's Organisational Performance Assessment.
The company's 'Buying Vision 2019' stated, Since April 2017 we pay all of our permanent employees the Living Wage as recognised by the Living Wage Foundation." However, no adequate policies were found which ensured living wages for the workers in the company's supply chain.
Overall, Lush was considered to have a reasonable approach to difficult issues.
Overall Lush received Ethical Consumer's middle rating for Supply Chain Management and lost half a mark in this category.
People Care etc Policy (2019)