Continuous improvement and action plans
Here, you can get inspiration for how to use action plans to ensure continuous improvement in the suppliers' CSR performance.
Make the commercial benefits clear
It is important that you are clear about the commercial benefits of improved CSR performance.
You should be prepared for a certain degree of scepticism from some suppliers who do not believe that they have the financial and human resources that are necessary to implement the required improvements.
It may therefore be a good idea to show how the suppliers can achieve commercial benefits, such as increased productivity, higher quality, lower sick leave rates, improved competitiveness, etc. from implementing improvement measures. You can also reward suppliers that make significant improvements by giving them more orders, or longer contract periods.
It can also be a good idea to point out that your requirements are in line with the international expectations that they will increasingly face from other customers and stakeholders.
Use action plans as tools for continuous improvement
It can be useful to draw up action plans together with the suppliers, so that they take ownership from the start.
If the suppliers do not take ownership, it is highly probable that they will not devote time and resources to achieving improvements.
As a minimum, an action plan should describe the improvement measures to be implemented, as well as milestones and deadlines for the individual measures. You should give priority to the most serious breaches of your Code of Conduct. Here, you can download a proposed action plan that you and your suppliers can adapt to your needs. If you have visited a supplier, the action plan can be used to wrap up the visit. Otherwise, the completed self-assessment questionnaire can serve as the basis for the action plan. It is important that you agree on how the subsequent follow-up will take place. For example, you can agree that the supplier is to report the status and progress of the individual improvement measures in the action plan on an ongoing basis – or at pre-arranged times. You can also agree to follow up on the action plan when your employees visit the supplier for other reasons. Or you can follow up via e-mail and telephone. The follow-up agreement may be included directly in the action plan.
Continuous follow up on action plans
Once the action plans have been drawn up, it is important to follow up on the progress of the suppliers' work.
You should be aware that the work of improving social and environmental conditions can be a lengthy process. Many suppliers will prefer to implement improvements at their own pace, and you should therefore respect that organisational changes can take time. It can be useful to compare a supplier's progress with the time it takes your own organisation to put the same management systems in place.
As a supplier works on implementing your Code of Conduct, it will be easier to have a good dialogue on CSR. When the supplier has implemented the CSR processes, you will be able to ask them to report on the adverse impacts they have identified and what they have done to prevent and remedy these impacts. Over time, this report will become a cornerstone of your cooperation with the supplier, as it can give key insights into how the supplier works with CSR.
or at pre-arranged times. You can also agree to follow up on the action plan when your employees visit the supplier for other reasons. Or you can follow up via e-mail and telephone. The follow-up agreement may be included directly in the action plan.