At Morrisons we recognise the responsibility that we share with our suppliers to buy, produce and sell our products in an ethical manner. We strongly believe that when human rights are respected and ethical standards are consistently delivered, this can improve worker wellbeing, productivity and quality, which benefits both our suppliers and our customers. Only suppliers that share our standards and values will be considered appropriate to trade with Morrisons and we seek to develop long-term, mutually beneficial trading relationships with suppliers based on the principle of fair, open and honest dealings at all times. We agree with the need to uphold the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and have aligned our Corporate Responsibility reporting with the UN Sustainable Development Goals
We recognise the systemic nature of labour rights violations in our supply chains around the world and acknowledge that a deeper understanding of root cause and contributory factors is key. Some of the worst abuses can occur where governments fail to protect workers rights and poor practice on the part of business results in a lack of responsibility in their duty of care for employees. This can be compounded further where trade unions are weak, or their activities are restricted, reducing workers capacity to bargain collectively for improvements in their conditions. We also acknowledge that workers can experience in-work poverty even where national minimum standards are met.
In many parts of the world there are additional barriers that prevent women from accessing decent work. We are conscious that this is an area where we need to build our knowledge and expertise in order to develop effective strategies for improvement. Ethical Trading colleagues in the UK are therefore undertaking a series of dedicated Gender Learning workshops hosted by the ETI, in support of our aim to identify practical solutions to make progress towards gender equality in supply chains. Colleagues from our Hong Kong team will also be attending a session on specific gender issues in our South East Asia supply chains in early 2019.
Our Ethical Trading Policy and Ethical Trading Code remain at the heart of our approach to monitoring, managing and mitigating human rights risk in our supply chain. This approach has historically been based around requiring our first tier suppliers to demonstrate compliance through the provision of third party social audits. As our programme has developed however, we have come to recognise the limitations of these audits in our food supply chains and their efficacy in identifying some of the more challenging issues.
Audits undoubtedly still have a role to play in our programme, and can provide the additional benefit of engaging suppliers in the conversation around ethical trading and modern slavery (in many cases for the first time). This can lead to dialogue on how these challenging issues can be addressed, especially in countries where this may be contrary to historical employment practices. It is however clear that to deliver meaningful change we need to engage and collaborate with a wider range of stakeholders. For more information on this see our blog on Collaborative Working
Risk Assessment & Due Diligence
We are members of the Supplier Ethical Data Exchange (Sedex) and utilise their platform and tools to understand and assess key areas of risk in our own-brand supply chain. We have over 1800 tier-one production sites in our own brand supply chain, operating across 50+ countries. All suppliers and sites in scope of our policy must hold active membership of Sedex, maintain an up to date Self Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) and link to us through the platform. We assess suppliers using the risk criteria provided by Sedex and other available indices. This provides us with an ongoing picture of basic compliance in our supply chain and enables us to identify where to focus resources for further improvement and collaborative action.
We meet regularly with third party audit bodies to review performance and access their knowledge and experience of developing trends and issues relating to the audit process in specific regions. A review in 2017 with representatives from our providers in Hong Kong highlighted concerns around the increasing use of consultants in China to prepare factories for audit, which may lead to subversion of the audit process and unreliable findings. We responded to these concerns with the establishment of an intelligence led, unannounced site visit programme delivered by Ethical Trading colleagues from our Hong Kong office. We continue to develop this programme and aim to visit over 50 factories in 2019.
When issues are identified in our supply chains, we are committed to supporting suppliers with improvement actions, and would never just “cut and run” in these situations. Our collaborative relationships with multi-stakeholder initiatives and network of subject matter experts enables us to provide suppliers with access to expert advice where required. As long as suppliers can demonstrate their commitment to continuous improvement, they have practical plans in place, and demonstrable progress is being made, we will continue to trade with the supplier.
Clear evidence of this commitment can be seen through our work to remunerate employees at a Zimbabwean stone fruit supplier following issues with non-payment in 2017, and more recently following the identification of an underage worker in a Chinese factory supplying us with electrical appliances. In this recent case we worked with the ETI, our competitors and a locally based NGO to both remediate the worker and provide external training and guidance for the supplier. The worker is being supported financially for period of two and half years, with regular visits from the NGO to oversee and ensure the process is effective. We plan to support this in 2019 with the development of a dedicated child labour remediation policy and process.
In cases specific to modern slavery, we have formalised this commitment to support suppliers through the BRC Retailer Protocol on Modern Slavery. We demonstrated in 2017, when a confirmed case of modern slavery was identified at one of our root vegetable suppliers the UK. We supported the supplier throughout and have since undertaken collaborative visits to gain further insight into the contributing factors, with the intention of sharing this knowledge with our suppliers. For further information and detail on our approach to tackling modern slavery, forced labour and exploitation in our business and supply chains, please see our 2018 Modern Slavery Statement.
Training & Development
Training, awareness building and engagement are key elements of our ethical trading strategy. All internal colleagues in key roles including Technical, Supply Chain and Own Brand Procurement are provided with training on our policy and code. We have additionally delivered Modern Slavery training workshops to all Morrisons Manufacturing, Procurement and HR Managers in collaboration with the GLAA and Stronger Together.
We also recognise that supporting, funding and delivering training to our suppliers and partners plays an essential role in building their capacity to take ownership for issues in their wider supply chains. Details of how we have delivered on this commitment can be found in our Collaborative Working blog.