Increasingly complex supply chains have prompted more organizations to attempt to ease communication with suppliers and contractors, achieve more transparency into processes and assert greater control over their operations. HP recently launched a set of responsible supplier guidelines to protect high-risk workers from harm while establishing best practices for management of staff throughout its supply chain.
Executives at HP explained the guidelines are not a response to specific incidents at the company, which has been the motivation behind similar moves at other high-profile companies. Rather, the new guidelines and standards are a proactive measure to ensure certain demographics of workers, students and dispatch employees in manufacturing facilities in China are treated properly. The guidelines include an outline of best practices as well as a measurement process to oversee how successful suppliers are at implementing the new standards worldwide, with specific focus on China.
HP leaders worked collaboratively with China's Center for Child Rights and Corporate Social Responsibility and other similar organizations to develop the guidelines and determine methods to enforce regulatory requirements and company expectations for suppliers. The guidelines for students and temporary workers draw up ethical workforce management expectations that focus on fair remuneration and social insurance. The new standards also touch on:
- Work for students and temporary employees must be voluntary
- Local regulations must be reinforced or exceeded
- A limited number of student workers is permitted in a single facility
- Student workers should only be hired within the department that coincides with their field of study
HP will follow up periodically on the deployment of these guidelines with social and environmental responsibility audits and the company's unique key performance indicator program. These measurement tools will collect performance data on suppliers to increase accountability and oversight. In gathering performance data more frequently, HP hopes to address other persistent supply chain issues before they evolve into costly delays or errors. HP is creating new standards that focus on excessive working hours, forced and child labor laws, migrant labor regulations, student worker limitations, collective bargaining rights, employee welfare and third-party validation. Through more extensive and thorough oversight of supply chain operations, HP hopes to mitigate financial penalties or fines while enhancing productivity and driving efficiency.
As the global marketplace continues to evolve, and more players enter new areas and test their skills against larger competitors, the need for supply chain management solutions increases. No matter the size or industry of the company, executives are realizing the value of supply chain tools to increase oversight and flexibility, enabling companies to adapt to market fluctuations quickly and efficiently. While supply chain management solutions may not be able to verify the age of suppliers' employees, tools such as IBM's Sterling Supply Chain Visibility can increase visibility by tracking performance metrics and easing reporting from suppliers and carriers.
With an integrated platform in place, information can be transferred and shared quickly within the enterprise, allowing for swifter changes when disparities and weaknesses are identified. This can help create operational consistency that drives optimal performance.