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Volume 31, Issue 2

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Tuesday, 07 August 2018 14:27

Slavery in the supply chain

The threat of slavery or unethical behaviour in a firm’s supply chain is not receiving the attention it should, particularly by those who work in crisis management.

Firms are judged by the company they keep, and if they employ or work with partners who are guilty of such practises, this represents a massive potential hit to an organisation’s reputation. Crisis managers are currently so obsessed with all things cyber that this major risk is being left unattended.

Companies or partners that form part of a firm’s supply chain need to adhere to its own high ethical standards, but this can be hard to police.

Lead paint

A few years ago, I was brought in to help extricate a client from an ethical crisis. One of their premium brands is a very well-known set of children’s toys. These they had made in China, only to discover that the manufacturers had swapped out the agreed paint, brought in a cheaper brand, which contained high levels of lead and used this in the manufacturing process. Young children put toys in their mouth and quite often chew! Parents are pretty resistant to their little darlings sucking on lead.

The company had agreed with the Chinese makers which lead-free paint should be used and even installed detectors in the factory that checked for lead contamination. These were left to gather dust. The brand went on to feature in the New York Times for all the wrong reasons.