In November 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed Morrisons’ corporate website and downloaded its 'Corporate Responsibility Review' 2019/20 (as well as previous issues of this annual report).

Supply Chain Policy (good)
Morrisons 'Ethical Trading Policy', dated October 2015, was viewed. It stated that: “All own-brand suppliers and pre-determined suppliers of goods and/or services not for resale supplying into Morrisons Supermarkets Plc and its subsidiaries (Morrisons Group) are in the scope of this Policy. Through Sedex, we monitor compliance in all tier-one sites. Sites beyond tier-one will be risk assessed and included in our monitoring programme where deemed necessary.” The policy was therefore considered to apply to the whole Morrisons supply chain. The policy included adequate clauses on forced labour, child labour, freedom of association and discrimination.

The clause on wages also stated: “Wages and benefits paid for a standard working week meet, at a minimum, national legal or industry benchmark standards, whichever is higher. In any event wages shall always be enough to meet basic needs and to provide some discretionary income.” This clause was considered to be adequately addressing payment of a living wage.

The clause on working hours stated that hours must not exceed 60 hours a week (48 normal hours, 12 overtime) but "working hours may exceed 60 hours in exceptional circumstances where any 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 seasonal work, accidents or emergencies." As this clause matched the clause in the ETI basecode and Morrison's was a full member Ethical Consumer considered it adequate.
Overall Morrison's received a good rating for its supply chain policy.

Stakeholder engagement (rudimentary)
Ethical Consumer viewed the Ethical Trading Initiative's website and found that Morrisons was a full member of the multi-stakeholder initiative.

Morrisons 2019-20 'Modern Slavery Act Statement' stated that the company continued to work with anti-slavery group Stronger Together as well as a number of others including: Food Network for Ethical Trade (FNET), and the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA), and Seafood Ethics Action Alliance (SEA Alliance). It was also noted that Morrisons had joined additional initiatives since the previous year’s report including the Spain Ethical Trade Forums and Slave-Free Alliance

While it was positive that the company was working with NGOs and charities to improve its supply chain, Ethical Consumer could not find evidence that a third party provided systematic input in order to verify the company's labour standard audits in the countries where its goods were produced.

The company operated "an externally provided whistleblowing hotline called “Tell Us” which is available to all suppliers, enabling them to raise concerns directly and anonymously to our head office Risk and Compliance teams." However, it was not clear whether the service was free of charge and available in the first language of those working in the company's supply chain.

Overall Morrisons received a rudimentary rating for stakeholder engagement.

Auditing and reporting (rudimentary)
The company's 2018-19 'Modern Slavery Act Statement' stated:

‘There were 811 audits undertaken at active sites linked to Morrisons on the Sedex platform in 2019 using either the Sedex Members Ethical Trading Audit (SMETA) or Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI) methodology. Our third party audit programme identified 5 tier one factories with Major or Critical non-compliances raised under the heading of “Employment is Freely Chosen”. All issues have now been resolved.’ Unlike in the previous year’s report, Morrisons did not list these instances of non-compliance.

Morrisons 'Ethical Trading Policy', dated October 2015, stated: “High risk sites will be subject to full ethical audits every 12 months; we will expect medium risk sites to undertake full audits every 24 months; low risk sites must update SEDEX Self Assessment Questionnaire at least every 6 months. For each of the non-compliances raised in an audit, corrective actions must be taken within timescales appropriate to the criticality, with systems in place to ensure that they do not re-occur. Deadlines for follow-up audits depend on Morrison's grading of audit findings.”

Morrisons was considered to have a rudimentary approach to auditing and reporting as it had a schedule for auditing its supply chain and a remediation policy. However there was no mention of who paid for the audits, a commitment to audit its whole supply chain or full disclosure of audit results.

Difficult issues (rudimentary)
In its 'Modern Slavery Act Statement 2019/20', Morrisons stated "Recognising the limitations of social audit in effectively identifying modern slavery, we take additional steps in higher risk areas of our supply chain to increase oversight. In 2019 we developed and trialled an online site reporting tool for use by our internationally based Technical Managers to capture working conditions, labour rights and modern slavery risk information live at source during site technical visits. This is supported by enhanced due diligence requirements for growers and processors detailed in our updated Raw Material Sourcing Policy, which requires all operators in our value chain to join Sedex and share risk information.” This was accepted as acknowledgement that problems of audit fraud exist and a systematic approach to addressing it.

The company provided its staff with ongoing training on modern slavery in supply chains. While this was a positive step, it was not clear whether the training programmes incorporated broader issues around labour standards in the supply chain (as well as modern slavery). Ethical Consumer expected training to be given on all workers' rights issues that could occur within the company's supply chain.

Morrisons was considered to have a rudimentary approach to Difficult Issues.

Overall Morrisons received a Best Ethical Consumer rating for Supply Chain Management and retained full marks in this category.


Corporate Responsibility Report 2019/2020 (2020)

In November 2020, Ethical Consumer searched Morrison's retail website, which listed a number of tobacco products.

The company lost a full mark under Irresponsible Marketing.

Reference: (24 April 2018)

In April 2018, Ethical Consumer viewed an article on the Information Commissioner Office website, titled 'Morrisons supermarket chain fined for flouting customers’ marketing wishes' and dated to June 2017.

It stated: 'An investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) found WM Morrison Supermarkets PLC (“Morrisons”) deliberately sent 130,671 emails to people who had previously opted out of receiving marketing related to their Morrisons More card.' The company was fined £10,500.

It therefore lost half a mark under Irresponsible Marketing.


Morrisons supermarket chain fined for flouting customers’ marketing wishes (16 June 2017)

In June 2019 Oxfam released an update to its 2018 report on supermarkets. The report scored 16 of the biggest supermarkets in Europe and the US on how they tackled critical issues affecting the people working in their food supply chains. The specific areas covered were: transparency and accountability; respect for workers' rights; fair treatment of farmers; and fair treatment of women.

None of the supermarkets was found to be doing enough to ensure basic human rights in their supply chains. The report observed that some workers went to work and produced food all day, but went home hungry. All the companies were given marks out of 100 in each of the above categories. The lowest mark was 3% and the highest 38%.

Morrisons scored 16% overall – up from 5% in 2018 – broken down as follows:

transparency 17%

workers' rights 38%

farmers rights 8%

womens' rights 0%

As the supermarket received red (0-20%) or orange (21-40%) ratings across the board, it lost half a mark under Human Rights.


Behind the Barcodes 2019 (12 August 2019)

In November 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed the Morrison's website,, and found that the company sold a range of clothes containing cotton under the "Nutmeg" brand. The clothes were not labelled as being made from organic cotton.

Morrisons' website stated: "Morrisons is committed to improving cotton farming practices globally with the Better Cotton Initiative. The Better Cotton Initiative makes global cotton production better for the people who produce it, better for the environment it grows in, and better for the sector’s future. Better Cotton is sourced via a system of Mass Balance. We are committed to sourcing 100% of cotton used in our Nutmeg clothing range as Better Cotton by 2025."

Although this was a positive commitment, Ethical Consumer looked for policies already in place to cover a company's entire clothing range. As the company's range was not 100% certified at the time of writing, it received Ethical Consumer's Worst Rating for its cotton sourcing policy and lost marks in three categories as detailed below:

According to Anti-Slavery international (ASI) website viewed by Ethical Consumer in August 2018, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan were two of the world’s largest exporters of cotton, and every year their governments forcibly mobilised over one million citizens to grow and harvest cotton. Due to the high proportion of cotton likely to have come from Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan and the prevalence of forced labour in its production, the company lost half a mark in the Workers Rights category.

The Organic Trade Association website,, stated in July 2018 that cotton covered roughly 2.78% of global arable land, but accounted for 12.34% of all insecticide sales and 3.94% of herbicide sales. Due to the impacts of the widespread use of pesticides in cotton production worldwide the company also lost half a mark in the Pollution & Toxics category.

According to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), a non-profit pro biotech organisation, genetically modified cotton accounted for 80% of cotton grown in 2017. Due to the prevalence of GM cotton in cotton supply chains and the lack of any evidence that the company avoided it, it was assumed that some of the company's cotton products contained some GM material. As a result it lost half a mark under the Controversial Technology category.

Reference: (16 January 2019)

In November 2020 Ethical Consumer searched Morrison's corporate website and its Corporate Responsibility Review 2019/20 for information on the company's commitments to addressing child labour, child slavery and other workers' rights issues within its cocoa supply chain. No information regarding the company's cocoa supply chain could be found. The company offered a number of own-brand Fairtrade certified products. The remainder of the company's cocoa products appeared to be uncertified.

The company did not provide a public deadline for certifying all of its cocoa, and only offered a couple of certified cocoa products. As the issue of child and slave labour within the cocoa supply chain had been raised as an issue since before 2000 Ethical Consumer did not take into account future commitments to sourcing fair and sustainable cocoa. The company therefore received Ethical Consumer's worst rating for its cocoa supply chain management and lost half a mark under Workers' Rights.

Reference: (16 January 2019)

In January 2020 Ethical Consumer view a story on the BBC News website titled, 'Morrisons faces women's equal pay action', dated 14 February 2019.

The article stated, "Supermarket giant Morrisons is facing legal action by women who work in its stores." The dispute is centred around the difference in pay between those working in the stores and those working in the distribution centres, the latter being paid more.

The law firm conducting the case was Roscoe Reid. A lawyer at Roscoe Reid, said: '"There is a clear case that female roles have been underpaid for a long time and employees are very likely to win their equal pay cases."'

As the dispute had not yet been settled and the court process was still ongoing, Morrisons was not marked down at the time of writing.


Morrisons faces women's equal pay action (14 February 2019)