Rice undertakes long-term supplier cooperation and builds up suppliers' competences via supplier visits and training programmes.
Rice imports and exports craftware such as kitchen accessories, bags, scarves, decorative items, etc. The company has 32 employees in Denmark, 15 employees in the EU, one in India and 80 in Thailand, under a partner with its own factory and warehouse. Rice Denmark has approximately 35 regular suppliers from China, India and Madagascar, while Rice Thailand has approximately 40 suppliers.
From the outset, the company has exercised social responsibility, with an ethical approach to doing business. CSR is incorporated in all of Rice's processes, and since 2001, Rice has held certification under the SA8000 ethical standard.
Manual for SA8000 in practice
Rice does not have a Code of Conduct, but instead has drawn up a manual with a detailed summary of the guidelines of the SA8000 standard. The manual is developed on an ongoing basis, in step with the challenges encountered and experience gained from implementing the standard in practice.
The regular suppliers are engaged under a strategic, long-term collaboration and their performance is therefore subject to continuous assessment. Rice views the SA8000 standard as an "Improvement System", so that its work with responsible supply chain management does not involve excluding suppliers. If there is good dialogue, this is a sound basis to continue the collaboration.
For Rice, a supplier visit is not just a question of identifying CSR issues to be addressed, but also of helping the supplier to draw up a concrete, realistic action plan before the next visit.
At the factory in Thailand, Rice holds annual workshops to train employees in conducting supplier visits. By applying local employees' insights into their responsible supply chain management, Rice ensures that cultural discrepancies are not allowed to dominate this work.
At one of its major textile goods suppliers in Jaipur, India, in cooperation with Danida, Rice has worked on a project devoted to CSR learning and working environment improvements. Numerous workshops have been held across the employee groups, resulting in fantastic cooperation between Rice and the supplier and paved the way for the supplier to become SA8000 certified in the future.
In addition to holding these workshops, Rice has helped to ensure access to water on all factory floors, set up a new lunchroom and installed an air conditioning system, etc. These are initiatives that not only benefit the supplier's workforce, but also create a stronger basis for fulfilling Rice’s quality and supply expectations. The mutual trust, confidence and insight established between Rice and its supplier as a result of this project will not only benefit their future strategic cooperation, but also serve as "a powerful example" for Rice to draw on in relation to its other suppliers.
Responsible supply chain management presents commercial benefits
Rice can see how responsible supply chain management presents many advantages:
- Loyal and cooperative suppliers due to better knowledge of and confidence in suppliers, as well as compliance with deadlines and other agreements.
- The ability to attract and retain major overseas customers in particular. Having a Code of Conduct or being certified has proved to be very cost-effective when customers themselves begin working with CSR and demand the same of their suppliers.
- A positive reputation and positive media publicity.
- A loyal workforce, including low sick leave rates and staff turnover, together with an increased ability to attract good staff.