Selection of suppliers
Here, you can get help to select the suppliers with whom you should have a closer CSR dialogue. The first stage of this dialogue is to request the selected suppliers to perform a self-assessment.
Give priority to suppliers of high commercial importance
You should start by gaining an overview of your suppliers and assessing their commercial importance.
In principle, your responsibility for adverse impacts on CSR principles in the supply chain cannot be limited to a specific number of suppliers or a specific link in the chain. In practice, however, your preventive activities will depend on the resources you have available to engage in a dialogue with suppliers.
You should, therefore, focus your efforts on the suppliers that are of greatest commercial importance to your activities. This will typically be suppliers on whom you are particularly dependent, or from whom you make significant purchases. It will typically also be easiest for you to influence these suppliers, since you are an important customer for them.
• You do a lot of business with the supplier
• The supplier is the sole supplier and replacement is a difficult and time-consuming process
• You have a contract with the supplier of more than one year's duration
• The supplier handles products with your company's logo
• You cooperate strategically with the supplier, and you make joint investments
You should not only evaluate your immediate suppliers. A subsupplier may, for example, be of great commercial importance if the company in question produces a commodity that is connected with your product to a significant degree. This might be cotton if your product is clothing, cocoa beans if the product is chocolate, or minerals and metals in the case of electronic products.
Give priority to high-risk suppliers
You should include suppliers concerning whom you have a justified suspicion of adverse CSR performance.
If you have a justified suspicion of an adverse impact on people or the environment, or of instances of corruption, by one of your suppliers, you should give this supplier high priority on the list of suppliers that you continue to focus on. This applies irrespective of the supplier's importance to your activities. A supplier's adverse CSR performance might damage your reputation considerably, irrespective of the supplier's position in the supply chain.
A justified suspicion should be based on current company-specific CSR problems with which you are familiar from your existing dialogue, have discovered during a supplier visit, or have heard about from another company or an NGO.
In the case of a new supplier, or a supplier with whom you do not have a current dialogue, media coverage can also be a useful source of information on any CSR issues. If possible, you can perform an Internet search of your suppliers to see whether there is any information indicating CSR issues.
When you study your supply chain to identify suppliers entailing significant CSR risks, it can be useful to be familiar with particular high-risk areas. If you, for example, purchase cotton from Uzbekistan, where there have been problems with forced labour, minerals from conflict areas, or textiles from Bangladesh, which has had problems with workplace health and safety, you should include suppliers related to these high-risk areas in your CSR activities. You can look for information on which high-risk areas are relevant for your company in general country and sector analyses, and use this information to qualify your selection of suppliers, based on CSR risks.
You should bear in mind, however, that adverse impacts on CSR principles can occur in all countries and sectors, just as a textile supplier from Bangladesh will not necessarily have problems with workplace health and safety. This supplier may even make an extra effort to exercise social responsibility. It is correct to assume, however, that it is more likely that the most serious adverse impacts on CSR principles occur in countries where legislation is weak, or is not adequately enforced. This is often - but by no means always - the case in less economically developed countries.
In phase 5 you can read more about how you should react to information concerning critical CSR issues.