Ethical Sourcing and Greening Your Supply Chain are Vital for Business Today

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Consumer goods companies are facing battles on all fronts. But increasingly they are having to defend themselves against social media ambush attacks which threaten to damage customer appeal for their products.

Sofia Ashraf is a young, bright copywriter for Ogilvy and Mather by day and a rapper by night. In 2015 she used her copywriting skills to change the lyrics of Nicki Minaj’s hit Anaconda from a celebration of women’s bottoms to the serious issues of Unilever’s alleged toxic waste dump and mercury poisoning in Kodaikanal, a city in southern India.

The trouble began in 1982 at a thermometer factory owned by the Anglo-Dutch company, where workers claim they were exposed to mercury poisoning. Unilever has settled the workers’ compensation claims but the team that produced “Kodaikanal Won’t” are not happy.

They released another video in 2018 “Kodaikanal Still Won’t” and promise to travel to the Netherlands and the UK to raise awareness among Dutch and British consumers about the company’s double standards if they refused to clean up the forest.​

Download our FREE GUIDE: ISO 14001:2015 – How to Improve Supplier Performance and Transparency to find out more.


Arthur Karuletwa is a social entrepreneur who is passionate about family and the people of his country. He works with Rwandan coffee farmers who are some of the poorest people in the world.

Arthur Karuletwa is upbeat about the benefits that the global coffee market has had on improving the lives of Rwanda’s coffee bean growers:

“What I see all over the world, in the most unexpected places, are ordinary people willing to confront despair, hopelessness, and incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, dignity and the beauty of what makes us human – despite the seemingly crumbling surroundings.”

Rwanda is hosting the African Fine Coffees Conference and Exhibition this month (February 2019). It’s an annual event that takes place in Africa’s coffee producing countries, and it’s a chance for coffee producers to meet local and international buyers. In the last 10 years, Rwanda has worked hard at improving the quality of its coffee beans.

“I would rate Rwanda’s coffee as exceptional … we love Rwandan coffee,” said Craig Russell, of the Starbucks Corporation in the New York Times in July 2015. The American coffee house is the largest in the world and buys up a lot of Rwanda’s coffee beans.

Starbuck’s journey to source 100% ethically produced coffee … 15 years and counting!

Arthur Karuletwa is the Director of Global Coffee traceability at Starbucks and connects their supply chain from the farmer to the consumer. In 2018 Starbucks launched a pilot program working with farmers to develop real-time blockchain technology that follows the coffee beans’ supply chain journey. The brand hopes to forge a deeper sense of trust and loyalty with their consumers by increasing transparency and creating more emotional connections between them and the brand.

And that’s exactly what transparency is supposed to do. It should build trust in the public, in customers and in consumers that products are truthfully ethically sourced. But transparency can only be effective if communication is open, honest and accessible and company disclosure is ethical.


Sustainability programs help companies mitigate social and environmental risks throughout their supply chains. These programs are all about business resilience, transparency, ethics and competitiveness, and typically address issues such as compliance, workers’ safety and health, and the environment among many other concerns. Issues in the supply chain can be broadly split into two: human rights issues and the sourcing issues in supply.

Supply chains have been becoming increasingly more important over the past few years, as the effects of inadequate supply chain accountability are more and more visible in our marketplace.  Manufacturers are getting a clear picture that sourcing decisions are now much more visible than in the past… and much more risky.

Big industry movers like IBM, Procter and Gamble, Kimberly-Clark, Johnson & Johnson and Unilever, among many others, are putting serious effort into engaging, collaborating and tracking supplier sustainability efforts. Central to each of these organisation’s concerns is how suppliers impact the large companies carbon footprint, water resource use and waste management.  

So, how can you ensure that your supply chain’s behaviour and performance do not harm the environment and your reputation?


Join us on our upcoming ISO 14001:2015 Introduction to EMS and Implementation or ISO 14001:2015 Internal & Supplier Auditor training courses to improve your knowledge about supplier management in Environmental Management Systems.  Contact Risk ZA on +27 (0) 31 569 5900, email or using our contact form.

You can also download our FREE Guide: ISO 14001:2015 – How to Improve Supplier Performance and Transparency to find out more.

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