RSN Updates

Read our updates to learn more about RSN’s work.

Monday
Feb012016

Intel Became a “Conflict-Free Company” by Engaging in the DRC, Not Avoiding It. Bravo!

Responsible Sourcing Network (RSN) measured company progress in 2014 and 2015 in our Mining the Disclosures reports, which provide tools to companies and stakeholders. Earlier this month, top-ranked company Intel announced that it would begin labeling all its products with a “CF” for “conflict-free”.

To date, only two companies, Signet and AVX, have found their products to be DRC Conflict-Free, while over a thousand publicly traded companies from across dozens of industries have been unable or unwilling to prove that all of their products are DRC Conflict-Free. Even those who have shown the greatest transparency and commitment, such as Philips, EMC, Qualcomm, GE, and HP, are still working to verify that their supply chains are 100% conflict-free. Unfortunately, not everyone is following their lead: hundreds of companies have sidestepped filing a full conflict minerals report (CMR). Many others have embargoed the entire DRC region as their risk management strategy, refusing to support leading companies in their efforts to identify and promote local conflict-free sources. 

In contrast, companies like Tiffany & Co. and Signet Jewelers have taken leadership in sourcing conflict-free gold from the DRC region, working with the Enough Project. Fairphone recently announced that its new phones would be the first electronics products to contain Fairtrade gold. Fairphone worked to engage partners and suppliers in creating a transparent, Fairtrade gold supply chain, from Fairtrade mines in Peru to the final Fairphone 2 product.

Intel too has taken this harder but more responsible route, as one of the few companies linking its risk mitigation efforts to outcomes in DRC mining communities, and reporting fully on its due diligence systems in its top- ranked conflict minerals disclosure, including an independent private sector audit.

Even when there is a paper trail for the four conflict minerals (tin, tantalum, tungsten, gold, or 3TG), it extends across oceans, continents, and conflict zones. “There’s nothing straightforward” in mineral supply chains, writes Damon Beres in a recent Huffington Post article citing RSN, and almost all conflict-free verification systems still contain gaps and glitches. Yet unprecedented collaboration and private sector leadership have given rise to improved traceability and greater transparency.

[If] we waited for a perfect system, we’d be embargoing the whole country,said a representative of Intel.  Even with more insight and control of its supply chain than other well known IT companies, it has taken Intel over five years and many resources to be able to use the “conflict-free” label. “We all need to have patience and perseverance while the complexity of complicated products and their supply chains are unraveled and accountability systems are implemented,” said Patricia Jurewicz, Director of RSN.

Silicon Valley cannot create a responsible minerals trade alone. Conflict minerals are found in products as diverse as e-cigarettes and blood sugar monitors. In its 2015 report, RSN reviewed companies from more than 20 different industries that incorporate conflict minerals into their products (Mining the Disclosures 2015, p. 7). To create a world where trade truly benefits mining communities, every company must commit to sourcing minerals responsibly.

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If you’d like to receive periodic updates from RSN, or would like to receive an invitation to our upcoming webinar on conflict-free supply chains, please email andrew@sourcingnetwork.org

Tuesday
Jan262016

BJ's Wholesale Club Signs Cotton Pledge

RSN would like to commend BJ’s Wholesale Club for signing the Cotton Pledge and for its continued opposition of the use of forced labor in its supply chain.

BJ’s should also be applauded for making their commitment public via press release and for directly informing its club members. RSN encourages companies to engage in the conversation like BJ’s has to increase awareness of the issue and stress the importance of a continued stand against Uzbek cotton produced with forced labor.

Directing the market away from materials made with forced labor from global supply chains is an arduous task, but it is possible when signatories such as BJ’s join in an industry-wide effort calling for change. With implemented transparency and accountability procedures, each signatory brings us closer to eradicating modern slavery in Uzbekistan.

 

Thursday
Jan072016

2016 Gets Underway with Cotton Pledge Support from Down Under!  

Fair dinkum!* 

The New Year got off to a fantastic start for the Cotton Pledge, because our pledge has made it Down Under!  RSN welcomes 2016 with a big g’day to Super Retail Group, APG and Co, The Just Group, Industrie, Organic Bed Threads, David Jones, Designworks, and Hallenstein Glasson Holdings as well as all of their brands for committing to help tackle forced labor in the cotton industry.

You can find our new Aussie and Kiwi mates on our list of companies and brands that have signed the pledge here! Take a look and you will see those that have taken the first step to help improve the lives of men, women, and children who have been forced to work against their will.  Make your next purchase from a pledge signatory to help fight modern slavery.

Responsible Sourcing Network wishes a happy New Year full of an abundance of human rights victories in 2016! 

By: Tom Sheahan, Cotton Initiative Intern: http://www.sourcingnetwork.org/interns/  @sheahantom

 

* fair dinkum

Australian slang; v, fair or true. To proclaim a fact or truth in a statement in such a manner.

Tuesday
Dec222015

Shop Conflict-Free This Holiday Season

Shopping for that perfect gift? No matter what gift you give or how perfect it may be, how can you find out if it was sourced “conflict-free” – or in a way that did not contribute to human rights abuses or conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo?

While this information has proven fairly difficult to gather, there’s good news. Many companies are making great progress in tracing specific metals in their products back to the country and mine of origin. They have responded to consumer pressure, investor expectations, and to disclosure requirements that came into effect in 2014 as part of Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Act.

Manufacturers of many popular gift-items are required to report on conflict minerals (tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold) and while some have strong policies and due diligence systems in place, others are lagging behind. You can learn more by downloading our 2015 report, Mining the Disclosures 2015: An Investor Guide to Conflict Minerals Reporting in Year Two

For a quick reference, click here to find how to evaluate the conflict minerals policies, here is an easy to read chart evaluating the world’s most popular tablet and automobile manufacturers.

A strong conflict minerals policy includes a commitment to support conflict-free minerals trade in the DRC, and not simply cut off all trade from the region which contributes to a devastating embargo effect. If your favorite tablet or car brand has a weak rating, use the company’s online feedback form, or social media, to let them know you want them to commit to source conflict-free.

We can all do our part to bring peace to the vulnerable mining communities at the heart of global supply chains this holiday season.

We are grateful for your support in 2015! Please remember RSN in your end-of-the-year charitable giving, and help us protect vulnerable communities at the heart of global supply chains. Visit www.sourcingnetwork.org/donate today!

Looking for a meaningful last minute gift for the Holidays? Check out The Peace Exchange and give a gift that supports women artisans in the Congo!

By: Andrew Arriaga, Conflict Minerals Research Manager @a_rriaga 

 

Wednesday
Dec092015

Costco Pushes Cotton Pledge Signatories to 200!


We would like to congratulate Costco, one of the most recent signatories of the Cotton Pledge to making a commitment against forced labor!

With Costco and its brand Kirkland Signature on board, the total number of companies and brands that have signed the pledge has now reached 200!

RSN would like to reiterate that signing the pledge is only the first step of many for a company to address this issue.  To fulfil upon the commitment of the Cotton Pledge, a signatory should:

  1. Align business practices with the pledge commitment
  2. Collect Country of Origin (COO) documentation for all cotton products and textiles
  3. Involve yarn and textile mills
  4. Engage the Uzbek government
  5. Join RSN’s Responsible Cotton Multi-stakeholder Network (Cotton MSN)

Details on implementing the above steps are given within the Introduction Packet to the Cotton Pledge.

The Uzbek-German Forum for Human Rights (UGF) released its most recent Cotton Chronicle on October 29, 2015, which details the various violations by the Government of Uzbekistan during the 2015 cotton harvest.  Although all of our collaborative efforts, including the commitments of the Cotton Pledge signatories, have contributed to almost entirely eliminating children aged 7 – 15 from the cotton fields, forced labor of older students and adults continues. The Cotton Chronicle documents the exploitation that has continued in Uzbekistan this year, and demonstrates the need for companies to continue efforts to eliminate Uzbek cotton from their supply chains until the abuse stops. 

Thank you Costco, and all 200 signatories for helping to combat forced labor in Uzbekistan. The continued increase in signatories of the pledge is an indication of the strength of the global commitment to reject cotton harvested with forced labor!

By: Tom Sheahan, Cotton Initiative Intern @sheahantom