In London, some of the globe’s largest firms back a new initiative to improve global supply chains. Led by The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), “which represents about 400 leading retailers and manufacturers across 70 countries – said it is creating a benchmark to support the development of more socially and environmentally responsible supply chains.” The Consumer Goods Forum has partnered with major retailers and food companies like Kellogg, Walmart, and Nestle to advise companies on more efficient sustainability sourcing and auditing. The Consumer Goods Forum will achieve this goal through the Sustainable Supply Chain Initiative (SSCI), which will align buyers and suppliers on third-party on diverging industry expectations for auditing and certificate schemes. The result will aim of boosting sustainable sourcing and reducing audit duplication and complexity in current sustainability certifications.
Using social benchmark criteria based on International Labour Organizations and the United Nations address the following elements:
- Management System
- Compliance with international labor standards and national legislation
- Forced, bonded and prison labor
- Child labor
- Freedom of association and effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining
- Discrimination, harassment and abuse
- Health and Safety
- Wages, benefits and terms of employment
- Working hours
- Grievance mechanism
A critical aspect of such an audacious plan is the organizations and implementation criteria. “The scheme management criteria are based on the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) scheme management criteria, the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI) governance.” The SSCI will supported by a tough and robust Governance plan, with a clear scope and objective, strict criteria for the use of Logos and claims, and setting and maintaining strict standards. The Consumer Good Forum is planning to achieve this through use accreditation and oversight mechanisms, building relationships with audit firms, follow up action, and data management. A key component of the plan calls for building strong relationships with third party auditing firms and verifying the auditor’s competence, audit protocol, and audit reporting. These areas will become critical as consumers start to look more into sustainability practices to differentiate products and companies. There is an increasing effort by retailers and food manufactures to establish sustainability and other certifications, because government intervention in this area can be differ widely from region to region. By standardizing and control more of the third party auditing and certifications these companies can insure that they maintain control over their industry oversight and prevent stricter measure being imposed by outside forces. It will become increasing important for companies to invest in certification and auditing to protect their brand from external agencies that hold different standards.