International Corporate Accountability Roundtable

Promoting Supply Chain Transparency

 

Over the last decade, worldwide interest in supply chain transparency and corporate reporting requirements has increased. Consumers, advocates, investors, and government actors continue to push for improved disclosure norms and requirements. Interested stakeholders seek to ensure that best practice in terms of supply chain transparency becomes standard company practice so that disclosed information may be more effectively used to monitor and address long-standing human rights issues in companies’ supply chains.

ICAR’s topical work tackles this issue from multiple angles through its leadership in the Transparency Pledge coalition and in its Realigning Reporting work.

Transparency Pledge – Supply chain transparency (starting with publishing names, addresses, and other important information about factories producing for global apparel companies) is a powerful tool that can be used to assert workers’ human rights, advance ethical business practices, and build stakeholder trust. Since the anti-sweatshop movement of the 1990’s apparel companies have slowly begun to disclose information on portions of their supply chains; yet, these types of disclosures remain exceptional. In addition, the information that companies do disclose varies widely from company to company. The lack of disclosures and the discontinuity in the disclosures that are made make it difficult for interested groups to understand the full scope of a given company’s supply chain.

To promote more uniform supply chain transparency in the apparel sector, ICAR and a coalition of other civil society groups developed the Transparency Pledge. The coalition has used the Pledge to engage with some of the world’s largest apparel brands and to encourage them to disclose supplier information in alignment with the Pledge. In its inaugural report, the coalition explained precisely what information it believes is needed to make corporate supply chain transparency more effective.

Realigning Reporting – As growing attention is paid to corporations’ impacts on human rights, so too has there been an increase in the number of reporting requirements by governments around the world. Despite this recent uptick, research shows that overly process-oriented reporting requirements often don’t lead to concrete improvements for those affected by corporate human rights abuses. The goal of ICAR’s Realigning Reporting work is to improve the effectiveness of corporate reporting as a tool to tackle human trafficking and forced labor. As several countries are looking to enact reporting frameworks on these issues, ICAR and its project partner Focus On Labor Exploitation (FLEX) are working to improve the efficacy and impact of corporate reporting requirements both through desk-based research and stakeholder engagement.