In July 2021 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 December 2020. This policy stated that "This policy applies acrossall Oxfam-GB operations and supply chains. This includes all UK based procurement teams and all UK based budget holders who manage spends of up to £500,000." It also stated, "Where contract value is over £500,000, or if an item is deemed high risk or carries the Oxfam brand, Oxfam GB staff are required to engage the Central Procurement Team to ensure they complete all necessary procurements steps."
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. It was a founding member of the Ethical Trade Initiative and used the ETI Base Code.
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 on its Modern Slavery page that Oxfam GB advocated for The UK's Modern Slavery Act 2015. 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. Its Modern Slavery statement 2019/20 stated, "Although workers in our supply chains could in theory report a concern through Oxfam’s systems, this is not common.... we support suppliers to develop their own whistleblowing channels, in line with best practice principles."
Overall, Oxfam's retail arm was considered to have a rudimentary approach to stakeholder engagement.
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.
In Oxfam's Modern Slavery Statement 2019/20 it stated "The overall aim of the Sourced-by-Oxfam framework is to increase the percentage of suppliers we buy from that prioritize people and the environment through how they do business, by creating targets for buyers and incentives for suppliers to move up the framework." "Over the last year, we have drafted the roadmap and shared it with our suppliers and leading Fair Trade companies to invite comments and challenge. We had to deprioritize this work as we responded to the coronavirus pandemic. In the next reporting period, we plan to restart our work with key supplier(s) to begin trialling this tool and to publish an initial version of the roadmap to invite wider feedback." It only referred to "Our first-tier sourcing countries (final point of manufacture)". It was not yet considered to be assessing its whole supply chain although it had a commitment to do so, but not beyond first tier suppliers. As it detailed all work undertaken so far as by Oxfam, it was understood to bear the costs of assessment.
It also stated, "The framework is intended as a tool to facilitate targeted dialogue between buyers and
suppliers... agreeing a human rights action plan, measuring progress, and targeting dialogue to co-create more effective solutions with our suppliers over time." This was considered to be a policy for non-compliance. Staged consequences for non-compliance were also listed in its Ethical and Environmental Policy 2020.
However no details were given regarding its auditing schedule or details of audit results. It was considered to have a rudimentary approach to auditing and reporting for its retail arm.
Difficult issues (reasonable)
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 2020 stated, "The Integrity and Ethics Division is responsible for the ongoing rollout of the holistic Code of Conduct training", " The online training was launched in November 2019 and is now a requirement for all Oxfam GB staff worldwide. We also focused on ensuring that the Code of Conduct is understood by Oxfam GB staff and contractors in priority countries where we are piloting new approaches."
Its Ethical and Environmental Policy 2020 stated it was committed to, "Recognising the contribution that stable business relationships can make to labour and environmental standards, and endeavour to establish long-term relationships with its suppliers."
It also stated that suppliers should commit to, "Being open and transparent about the standards in our supply chain and operations, and provide information requested by Oxfam to enable assessment.•Informing customers if their purchasing practices are undermining the supplier’s ability to uphold decent working conditions (including predictable work and living wages) and working with customers to build trust and share accountability for doing no harm and continuously raising standards over time."
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)