Guide

Ethical trading

Ensure staff welfare in your supply chain

Businesses are increasingly being required to look beyond their own direct relationships, such as those with their own employees, and to consider those further back in the supply chain. This is in direct proportion to the rise in investor and customer concern over worker and human rights.

It makes good business sense for you to ask pertinent questions about your overseas suppliers' labour practices. Such questions might include the following:

  • Is employment freely chosen and are workers free to organise themselves?
  • Is child labour used?
  • Are working conditions safe and working hours reasonable?
  • Are fair wages paid?
  • Is discrimination practised?

A written questionnaire can be a useful way of getting information about workplace conditions from your suppliers, though onsite visits - if practical - are the most reliable way of checking these conditions. 

Although there are few legal requirements for you to take responsibility for the behaviour of your suppliers, it could bring you significant business benefits if you consider the ethical dimension of the supply chain.

Benefits to your business include the ability to:

  • promote your corporate social responsibility credentials
  • attract ethically motivated customers
  • attract ethically motivated investors
  • avoid harmful publicity linking you to your suppliers' practices

Membership of the ETI can also help you develop the skills and share the experiences of trading ethically.