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Key takeaways from AIMP Progress

5 minute read

Strengthening Respect for Human Rights in Responsible Sourcing

It was a great few days in Paris where I attended the first in person membership conference hosted by AIM-Progress (AIMP), post Covid. Representatives from leading Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) manufactures and suppliers were brought together to share best practices and reflect on capability building in driving increased respect for Human Rights across Supply Chains.

The agenda highlighted clear priorities going forward that will enable pathways for heightened corporate sustainability and HRDD, as well as bringing to light new challenges on human rights that will influence the narrative, yet again. The world has entered a tumulus chapter and whilst Covid and conflict are continuing to affect global supply chains, the impacts of environmental changes will require a more common approach to integrate actions on climate and human rights together. Although obstacles remain, it was encouraging to hear so many insightful presentations around the enablers of change and not least the passion and will wanting to turn the tide.

Through external speaker presentations, panel discussions and sharing of case study experiences -collaboration stood out as one aspect that has the prospect of escalating progress, driven by organisations and leadership but with the full inclusion of supply chain stakeholders, including rightsholders and their local communities.

adm is set on a path that fully resonates to this heightened social impact agenda and where supporting partnerships across the organisation are, and will continue to be, fundamental to our success. Collaborating with external organisations such as AIMP and the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), developing conversations with suppliers, partnering with clients and supporting local initiatives through ‘Solidarity Sourcing’ programmes has helped adm nurture a culture that thrives on mutual beneficial cooperation and inclusion.

Organizational engagement

Building on the topic of collaboration for a positive, impactful rights agenda, concerted effort from everyone across the business is needed. Companies must embed a culture also from within, which can only materialise as we know, with buy-in from the board as well as pro-active engagement from Senior Management. Human Rights are complex issues that demand long-term commitment, alongside a will to embrace change and set strategies allowing for their incorporation and sustenance. The business case is a non-negotiable positive one and set in a buyers’ market it is pertinent that leaders become champions of change! A presentation on the fast-changing legislative landscape further heightens the need for clear Governance structures allowing for board oversight and lead on compliance. Stakeholder communication on the back of this will continue to be a priority making sure that transparency and accountability are made visible across the organisation.

adm has made a clear commitment to make responsible sourcing a key driving force of the business model and is continuously adapting its capability building and engagement on driving the ‘A Better Tomorrow’ programme forward. An engaged leadership such as through our ‘Board-level Steering Committee for CSR and Sustainability’, lead our business on sustainability and climate related issues, alongside regional sustainability specialists providing support also to our procurement directors.

A panel discussion took a closer look into the challenges exactly experienced by procurement teams juggling key relationships across the business. Growing acknowledgement as key enablers for change and development through working directly with suppliers and in many ways owning these valuable relationships, the importance of assisting procurement with proactive tools and operating models were raised as fundamental in strengthening responsible sourcing practices and managing companies’ expectations.

adm recognises these patterns and have as a response and as part of our Community pillar targets developed training tools relating to sustainable procurement practices across our Global staff teams.

Supplier ownership and engagement in responsible sourcing and human rights

As the world is growing in complexity it is evident that viewing solutions through a one-way lens will not encourage suppliers we heavily rely on committing to increased demands on fulfilling rights objectives. Whilst reducing human impact is driving business due diligence and responsible practices, focus was accurately brought to the smaller providers, who do not all hold internal capabilities, that operate under continued financial strains and lacking overall resources to action the many systems businesses are introducing over and beyond audits.

Solutions are no size fits all, but building on the theme of collaboration, a greater understanding on what happens ‘on the ground’ is needed to redefine road maps, combined with a genuine wish to create supporting structures that empower engagement. ‘Ownership, diplomacy, passion and holistic partnerships’ become parts of that particular ‘secret sauce’, so brilliantly described by one of the keynote speakers.

Working closely with its suppliers adm continues to build an inclusive culture encouraging also the many diverse voices of our partners. Through our ‘Assure pillar’, that is part of our global sustainability framework, the aim is to ensure that by learning from and increasingly supporting our supplier base, we co-create a respectful, mindful and positive environment for growth.

Rightsholder engagement and mutual recognition

And not the least, one of the central themes that I was most pleased to note, was focus on rightsholders importance as being part of the solution. With collaboration across central business functions and sectors commonly recognised as enablers to responsible sourcing, allowing for local voices to be heard and provide input to a process that is inherently as much theirs as ours is when real change can take place. We learnt how effective tools for improvement in these relationships may include deep dive supply chain consultation, increased local awareness, building community networks and partnership with civil society. Although in some ways this could challenge companies to review and develop in areas perhaps more unknown, ultimately the long-term prospect of positive impact and value output at scale is far better achieved through a shared sense of responsibility and common connection.

adm has set out an ambitious agenda for both the environmental and social pillar bringing commitment to the forefront. Elevating positive impacts and increasingly supporting local rightsholders includes building our Living Wage programme as part of a L'Oréal pilot, developing Grievance Mechanism standards as well as understanding Worker Welfare across our supply chains. There is always room for improvement, but by recognising evolving patterns, adaptation at least holds the key to always improve both on a strategic as well as practical level.

As our first day came to an end, Mutual Recognition as a key enabler of change takes the stage as yet another pivotal example of supporting collaboration as a positive force for good – perhaps above all it is what aligns the hope towards encouraging a positive social impact narrative where exchange and converge on responsibilities lies at the heart of progress. Cooperation can only bring better outcomes and as so poignantly phrased in the conclusive comments of the last speaker of the session: ‘Getting there means helping People through the Great Arc of Change’.  

By Else-Marie Arli Boyd

Global CSR Manager adm Group