In June 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed Oxfam's website for details of its supply chain management. A page about Corporate Responsibility was found, including an Ethical and Environmental Policy, dated 2016. The page stated that "This policy applies to Oxfam GB and its suppliers. Our procurement falls into four main categories: central procurement, Sourced by Oxfam (retail), humanitarian and international programmes." It was the Sourced by Oxfam range we were looking for information on.
Supply chain policy (good)
Ethical Consumer considered Oxfam to have a good supply chain policy due to the fact it had adequate clauses on all six of the International Labour Organisation's conventions: working hours, living wages, child labour, forced labour, freedom of association and employment free from discrimination.
Stakeholder engagement (rudimentary)
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.
Oxfam was a founder member of the Ethical Trade Initiative. It also stated that Oxfam GB advocated for The UK's Modern Slavery Act 2015. Its Sourced by Oxfam 'about' page stated "We’ve carefully chosen great food, gifts and homewares that are made with care, protect the planet and help the women and men who produce them to earn a decent living", and stated its commitment to fair trade, as well as businesses fighting poverty in the UK. The Corporate Responsibility page stated "Approximately 50% of our retail suppliers are fair trade." Its supply chain was therefore partially verified by NGOs.
Oxfam had an anonymous whistleblower system, but it appeared to apply to "people we work to support, staff, volunteers, partners and supporters" but not suppliers.
Overall, Oxfam's retail arm was considered to have a rudimentary approach to stakeholder engagement.
Auditing and reporting (rudimentary)
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 company should also have a staged policy for non-compliance. The costs of the audit should be borne by the company.
In Oxfam's Modern Slavery Statement 2018/19 it stated "All manufacturing sites must complete a manufacturing questionnaire, unless they are certified by the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO), to assess their labour standards policies against Oxfam’s Ethical and Environmental Policy. We use additional existing assessments, along with the company’s risk and leverage profile, to agree bespoke due diligence approaches as appropriate." It was considered to be monitoring its whole supply chain.
It had assessed risk of human rights abuses in its supply chains but felt it had, "relatively low leverage in many of our high-risk supply chains". It stated, "One approach we are about to trial to address this problem in a different way in our retail supply chains is a sourcing framework. The aim of the framework is to increase the percentage of suppliers we buy from that put people and the environment before profit, by creating targets for buyers and incentives for suppliers to move up the framework."
It also stated, "We recognize that communicating a zero-tolerance approach may push poor practices underground. Therefore, we have adopted an approach of continuous improvement and zero tolerance to inaction to promote transparency and enable more open dialogue with suppliers and partners." This was considered to be a policy for non-compliance.
However no details were given regarding its auditing schedule, details of audit results, nor who bore the cost of audits. It was considered to have a rudimentary approach to auditing and reporting for its retail arm.
Difficult issues (good)
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.
Oxfam's Modern Slavery Statement 2018/19 stated that in the year, "The retail buying team received refresher training covering:•the external frameworks thatinform our standards•Oxfam’s policies, including the new Anti-Slavery and Human Trafficking Policy•when and how we assess suppliers•the tools we use to assess them."
It stated, "We aim to build long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with suppliers;65% of the suppliers in our UK-managed database have contracts lasting over three years and we have been working with 11% of them for over 10 years."
Ethical Consumer considered Oxfam to have a reasonable approach to difficult issues within supply chains. Overall it received a best rating for its supply chain management.
https://www.oxfam.org.uk (1 June 2020)