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The ability to develop effective working relationships with suppliers all over the world provides businesses with a number of important advantages in a globally competitive marketplace. Working with global suppliers can support an organization’s efforts to maintain quality, control costs, increase production flexibility, and reduce time to market. At the same time, the use of global supply chains introduces a number of complexities and challenges to an organization’s business model such as:

  • Lack of clarity in social performance goals
  • Lack of adequate oversight of supply chain activities
  • Failure to effectively respond to supply chain deficiencies
  • Failure to identify and assess root causes of non-compliance
  • Divergence of social performance ideals from cultural norms

In an effort to address the challenges of implementing social performance goals across supply chains, client organizations and suppliers are increasingly applying the principles and practices embodied in a management systems framework.


The management systems approach for socially responsible practices

In organizations today, management systems are an essential tool in managing performance related to product quality, the environment, energy usage, health and safety practices, and socially responsible behavior. They are generally structured in accordance with the PDCS cycle ( Plan, Do, Check, Act) and with the integration of 5 key elements:

  • Policies and procedures that describe the behaviours to achieve the desired outcome
  • Communication because it’s important that employees and associates understand policies
  • Training that can accompany the communication phase
  • Tracking and measurement to assess that actual activities comply with the policies
  • Accountability and enforcement to take appropriate actions to address noncompliant activities

When it comes to socially responsible practices, management system principles have been introduced into some social responsibility standards, covering human rights, labor practices, community involvement, consumer issues and operating practices.

Do you want to read more about the benefits of the management system approach for promoting socially responsible practices and learn how the UL team can support your business? Consult our whitepaper “Using management systems for socially responsible practices in supply chain

You can contact UL’s Responsible Sourcing team for any additional information.

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