In March 2020 Ethical Consumer sent Reckitt Benckiser a questionnaire, asking for details of the company's supply chain management policy. The company replied with details and with links to several other documents, including its Sustainability Insights Report 2018 and RB’s Policy on Human Rights and Responsible Business - Detailed Requirements dated April 2016.
Supply chain policy (rudimentary)
Ethical Consumer considered Reckitt Benckiser to have a rudimentary approach to its supply chain policy due to the fact it had adequate clauses on child labour, forced labour, freedom of association and discrimination. The clause on working hours was not considered adequate as it stated "shall not exceed 60 hours on a regular basis." While the company had used the wording as described by the Ethical Trading Initiative it was not considered adequate due to the fact the company itself was not a member. The clause on remuneration did not provide a living wage.
Stakeholder engagement (rudimentary)
Reckitt Benckiser was considered to have a rudimentary approach to stakeholder engagement due to the fact it had a "speak up" freephone confidential hotline which was available in different languages and run by a third party. The company also said that it had been working with the Danish Institute for Human Rights. The company stated that it was a member of AIM-Progress and the Consumer Goods Forum, however these were not considered multi-stakeholder initiatives as they had only industry members. It also stated that it was a member of the Indirect Procurement Human Rights Forum. Very little information could be found about this, but it did not appear to be a proper multi-stakeholder initative.
Auditing and reporting (reasonable)
Reckitt Benckister provided details of its auditing system, including where breaches had been found and the remediation stategy used. It committed to auditing its entire supply chain. All companies were initially required to complete a self-declaration form and then had site visits at a frequency depending on the risk level determined. The company described its audit schedule. The company stated "As active members in Aim Progress we accept Mutual Recognition Audits conducted by our approved audit houses. As a result, we ask our suppliers to pay for the audit so they can own the report and share with other customers who require a SMETA Audit. Failing this RB will pay for the audit."
Ethical Consumer considered Reckitt Benckiser to have a reasonable approach to auditing and reporting due to the fact it was auditing or assessing its whole supply chain, provided quite a lot of information about results, and had a remediation strategy. However, as not all audit costs were paid by the company it was not able to get a "good" rating.
Difficult issues (rudimentary)
Reckitt Benckiser described its work with internal human rights training and capacity building with its suppliers. It stated "We are accredited in the UK for living wage payments are now considering how that may be extended to other key origin markets....Through membership of organisations such as SEDEX and AIM Progress, we are able to cross-check audit approaches and findings to mitigate the risk of audit fraud". Overall it was considered to have a rudimentary approach to difficult issues.
Overall Reckitt Benckiser received a middle Ethical Consumer rating for its supply chain management.
Questionnaire response March 2020 (30 March 2020)