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Chain Reaction: New Tool Helps Suppliers Become Sustainable

Paris, October 4, 2005: How can a company do everything right to meet the best Corporate Social Responsibility standard for their products and services – and still get it wrong. The weak link is often the chain itself - the supply chain.

For companies in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector, help is at hand with the release today of the first of several new tools developed by the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) and the electronics industry. The ICT Supplier Self-Assessment Questionnaire is an easy to use, self-assessment tool to help companies clearly introduce their social and environmental expectations and engage with factory level management of their supply chains. Developed with the Electronics Industry Code of Conduct Implementation Group (EICC IG), the multiple-choice Questionnaire is an initial and efficient screening tool to identify labour, ethics, health, safety or environmental issues that may require more in-depth assessments such as a supplier audit.

“Many suppliers complain about the number of different questionnaires they receive”, say Chris Tuppen who serves as the chair of GeSI.’ The ICT Questionnaire will help eliminate duplication of effort and ease the burden on suppliers and will be available as an online tool early next year.

“The information provided via the ICT Questionnaire can help to establish accountability, better understand the practices of suppliers, and identify potential risks or performance gaps,” says Tuppen. Because of its comprehensive nature, he adds, the ICT Questionnaire may also provide a model for other industry groups grappling with similar issues. More importantly, the ICT sector is promoting an approach based on management systems for suppliers to address these complex issues at their factories.

According to Tuppen, the ICT Questionnaire promotes an open and constructive dialogue between suppliers and customers regarding best practices in the management of environmental and social responsibility. “An honest and transparent supplier self-assessment represents a first step toward working with suppliers to improve management systems and overall performance,” he says, adding that suppliers will be expected to demonstrate their continuous improvement through periodic updates of the on-line questionnaire.

Chair of the EICC IG, Brad Bennett, says the ICT Questionnaire is “a significant milestone” as the first of several tools to be released by their collaborative effort with GeSI. “This overall supply chain corporate responsibility program will help meet a number of company needs across our sector" he says.

Other tools under development include a risk assessment tool, a common approach to auditing, and additional web-based resources. Both Tuppen and Bennett believe these tools have the potential to become a standardized way for suppliers to comply with company demands for better corporate and social responsibility.

“The collaborative efforts of GeSI and the EICC IG demonstrates that the ICT sector is taking these issues seriously and embedding solutions into their business operations,” says Mark Radka from the United Nations Environment Programme’s Division of Technology, Industry and Economics, which supports GeSI as part of wider efforts to improve supply chain management and address other sustainability issues facing companies today.

The questionnaire is available in English, Spanish and Chinese versions at www.gesi.org.

For more information, contact:

Arnie Bawden, Co-Chair, GeSI Supply Chain Work Group: +44 1753 565 836 Arnie.bawden@o2.com

At UNEP, contact Robert Bisset on +33 1 4437 7613, email: Robert.bisset@unep.fr

About GeSI: The Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) is a joint initiative of an international group of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) service providers and suppliers, with the support of the United Nations Environment Programme and International Telecommunication Union. GeSI seeks to contribute to sustainable development in the ICT industry by taking a leadership role in collaborative exploration and responsible management of the evolving interfaces among industrial, ecological, and social systems. Information about GeSI’s ongoing activities can be found at www.gesi.org. Members include: Alcatel, Bell Canada, British Telecom, Cisco Systems, Deutsche Telekom, Ericsson, European Telecommunication Network Operators Association, Hewlett Packard, Motorola, O2, Orange, Panasonic Mobile Telecommunications, Telefonica, Vodafone, the U.S. Telecom Association, the Carbon Disclosure Project, and E-Square. Microsoft and Nokia participated in the GeSI Supply Chain Working Group.

About EICC IG: The EICC Implementation Group (EICC IG) was formed in early 2005 as a collaborative effort to develop and deploy a common implementation approach around the EICC. Members share a common vision of creating better social, economic and environmental outcomes for the technology industry’s supply chain while making it more efficient for suppliers to align to a single set of high standards. Member companies include: Celestica, Cisco Systems, Dell, Flextronics, Foxconn, HP, IBM, Intel, Jabil, Lucent, Microsoft, Sanmina SCI, Seagate, Solectron and Sony. The EICC Implementation Group is facilitated by BSR.




Further Resources

Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Supplier Self-Assessment Questionnaire
Download questionnaire

Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI)

Division of Technology, Industry and Economics


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