Human rights violations and other social impact issues in the electronics supply chain are increasingly recognized, with complex and challenging issues at each stage in a product’s life cycle. A number of standards, audit tools and other initiatives exist to address these issues, and new regulations in the U.S. and EU have the potential to impact how the electronics sector manages its supply chain. However, there is a lack of life cycle thinking about social issues across the ICT supply chain. Legislative efforts, standards and codes of conduct focus on a specific point in the supply chain or address specific hotspots.
Purchasers, especially large institutional ones, want to ensure that the products they buy are not associated with human rights violations. Yet there is a lack of understanding about how to specify social auditing standards and systems in contract language to ensure products have been assessed or verified to be “free” of child labor, forced labor, and/or other human rights issues.
GEC does not wish to duplicate activities already underway. Instead, we are collaborating with partners to develop a framework to identify the social-impact areas most pressing for manufacturers to address at different points in the supply chain. This framework would then be used as the basis for helping manufacturers evaluate how well they are addressing social issues across the lifecycle of their products. It is envisioned that this framework, less detailed and more flexible than a standard, could integrate existing regulatory and best practices that are focused on just one life cycle stage. The objective would be making notable progress on these issues while allowing manufacturers to receive credit for work they are currently doing in socially responsible sourcing.
If you have an interest in this topic and would like to be part of our collaboration, we welcome your engagement.