Ethical sourcing, also often referred to as responsible sourcing, is a process that ensures the products being sourced are obtained in a responsible and sustainable way, that the workers involved in making them are safe and treated fairly and that environmental and social impacts are taken into consideration during the sourcing process.
These are the key principles involved in ethical sourcing:
- Respect for Human Rights: The company ensures that there are no human rights abuses in their supply chains. This includes no child labor or forced labor, safe and healthy working conditions, reasonable working hours and respect for the right to collective bargaining.
- Fair Labor Practices: Workers should receive fair wages, benefits and employment conditions. Discrimination, harsh or inhumane treatment should be strictly prohibited.
- Environmental Sustainability: The sourcing processes should minimize negative impacts on the environment. This can involve reducing waste, managing water use, limiting emissions and ensuring responsible use of natural resources.
- Animal Welfare: In businesses where animals are part of the supply chain (such as in food or fashion industries), ethical sourcing ensures that the welfare of these animals is taken into account.
- Community Impact and Social Value: Ethical sourcing also considers the impact on communities where suppliers operate, supporting suppliers who contribute positively to their local communities.
- Traceability and Transparency: Ethical sourcing involves the ability to trace the origin of goods and materials and being open about sourcing practices, allowing consumers to make informed choices about the products they purchase.
Implementing ethical sourcing practices not only has the potential to improve a company’s reputation but can also help to reduce risk in the supply chain, increase efficiency and ensure compliance with international standards and laws. Consumers are becoming more conscious about their purchasing decisions and are often willing to support businesses that demonstrate commitment to ethical sourcing.