In August 2020 Ethical Consumer sent Nestle a questionnaire requesting information about its supply chain management policies and practices. No response was received and in October 2020 the company’s website www.nestle.com, and the ‘Nestle Responsible Sourcing Standard’ report July 2018 were viewed. The latter stated, "This Standard replaces previous versions of the Nestlé Supplier Code, the Nestlé Responsible Sourcing Guideline and the Nestlé Commitment on the Responsible Use of Materials from Agricultural Origin". The 'Creating Shared Value' report 2019 was also searched for relevant information. On the basis of these documents, Nestle was rated as follows:
Supply chain policy- reasonable
The ‘Nestle Responsible Sourcing Standard’ had an adequate section on Freedom from Forced, Bonded or Prison Labour. Regarding child labour it stated " no person shall be employed under the age of 15 or under the age for completion of compulsory education, whichever is higher, except in the strict frame of the Family Farm Work described in 4 . 2.1".
The Family Farm Work criteria stated the following:
"In accordance with international labour standards, a minor, between the age of 12 and 15 may work, in parallel with studying, on a farm owned or operated by that parent or person standing in place of their parents [a guardian] as long as the following conditions are met: • The minor freely reports their wish to help and learn at the family farm if interviewed outside the farm• Work takes place outside of schooling• Work is supervised at all times by a parent or guardian • Work does not take place at night, does not consist of heavy lifting duties or hazardous work conditions, defined as:• Operating or assisting to technically operate any type of machine, including tractor and power engines• Felling, bucking, skidding, loading, or unloading timber• Working from a ladder or scaffold (painting, repairing, or building structures, pruning trees, picking fruit, etc.) at a height of over 2 metres,• Working in a confined space (example silo or a storage designed to retain an oxygen deficient or toxic atmosphere)• Handling or applying any type of agricultural chemicalsThe above requirements apply as well to agricultural schools – apprentices and students that can be present on farms."
As the Standard contained a clear prohibition of child labour, and explained in detail its Family Farm Work exception, overall the child labour clause was deemed adequate.
The Sourcing Standard upheld freedom of association and non-discrimination. Regarding wages it stated, "cash wages plus in-kind benefits (up to 30%) shall aim to meet basic needs for employees and their entitled official dependents and to provide some discretionary income. Where living wages have been objectively calculated, progress should be made to close any gaps between current wages and living wages."
The section on working hours stated "Regular working hours, excluding overtime, shall be defined by contract and shall not exceed 48 hours per week", and that "All overtime shall be voluntary and shall not exceed 12 hours per week".
However, this standard was said to only apply to "Tier 1 suppliers, defined as having a direct commercial relationship with Nestlé",
Nestlé's supply chain policy was therefore considered reasonable.
The Shared Value Report discussed its grievance mechanisms: "In 2019, we carried out a major review of the effectiveness of our external (Tell us) and internal (Nestlé Integrity Reporting System) grievance mechanisms". It was not clear whether these were at no cost and in stakeholder's first language.
The report mentioned multi-stakeholder platforms but only for water stewardship advocacy.
There was no mention of engagement with trade unions.
Auditing and reporting- Poor
The Nestle Responsible Sourcing Standard did not mention an audit program but stated that "Upon Nestlé request, suppliers, including intermediaries and farms, shall make visible the internal program they have in place demonstrating continuous improvement or fulfilment against the Standard’s requirements or its equivalent".
The Creating Shared Value report stated, "CARE, our global external audit program, is conducted by three audit companies and verifies that all employees and sites we own or operate comply with local legislation, our Corporate Business Principles and Code of Business Conduct. The audits take place every three years."
The company did not appear to have an audit schedule for suppliers.
Difficult issues- rudimentary
In its Shared Value Report Nestle mentioned work done to tackle child labour, and women's empowerment.
Overall Nestlé received Ethical Consumer's middle rating for its Supply Chain Management and lost half a mark in this category.
Nestlé Responsible Sourcing (July 2018)