In April 2021 Ethical Consumer viewed the Faith in Nature Ltd website for information on how the company managed workers' rights in its supply chain. The company was sent a questionnaire from Ethical Consumer in April 2021 and the response to this, received in May 2021, was also viewed.
1. Supply chain policy (poor)
Ethical Consumer looked for the following commitments: no use of forced labour, permission of freedom of association, payment of a living wage, the restriction of working hours to 48 hours plus 12 overtime (without exception), no use of a child labour (under 15 or 14 if ILO exempt), no discrimination by race, sex or for any other reason.
No policy was found addressing any of these issues and it was considered to have a poor supply chain policy.
2. Stakeholder engagement (poor)
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.
No evidence was found that the company was a member of a multi-stakeholder initiative. It stated "We conduct due diligence of new suppliers, including a “supplier service provider approval form” which asks whether supplier are a member of Sedex, one of the world’s leading ethical trader providers. We request evidence of membership." It was unclear what was included in the form, and SEDEX membership was not considered an adequate example of stakeholder engagement.
No evidence was found of systematic input from NGOs and/or labour organisations and/or not-for-profits in the country of supply into the verification of labour standard audits. It stated "Being a manufacturing business, we work closely with Trade Unions to ensure accountability with respect to employee welfare" but it did not state which nor whether these worked together on the issue of audits.
No evidence was found that the company had a complaints process available to supply chain workers. It stated "Whilst we have a whistleblowing process within our own organisation, we are unaware of any specific policies or processes within our wider supply chain."
Overall, it was considered to have a poor approach to stakeholder engagement.
3. Auditing and Reporting (poor)
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.
The company stated "We audit all of our suppliers from a quality perspective and we are beginning to include ethical auditing within this. For example, although we are not legally required to implement a modern slavery policy, we are currently developing one and this will be shared on our website. In time, this will be included within the supplier auditing process." As such it appeared the copmany did not currently audit in respect to ethical issues.
It was considered to have a poor approach to auditing and reporting.
4. Difficult issues (poor)
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 meeting labour standards, 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.
Overall it was considered to have a poor approach to difficult issues as no information was found related to these criteria.
As a small company Faith in Nature could have qualified for an exemption if it demonstrated effective if not explicit action to address supply chain management issues. As no measures were identified it did not qualify for this.
Overall, Faith in Nature Ltd received a worst Ethical Consumer rating for Supply Chain Management and lost a whole mark in this category.
https://www.faithinnature.co.uk (20 April 2021)