Supply chains are complex networks of resources, activities, technology, information, people, and organizations all involved in moving a product or service from supplier to customer. For many companies, improving supply chain management offers the largest opportunity for achieving increased sustainability performance – particularly in addressing issues of labor and human rights abuse. In the 1990s, the issue of human rights and supply chains became front-page news after child labor scandals in the apparel industry surfaced. As a result, customers, investors and regulators increasingly want to know that the products they purchase and underwrite are not causing undue harm to communities near and far. This three-part podcast series focuses on the ethics of supply chain management and the evolving impacts on human rights.
With the recent explosion in the market of computers, cellphones, tablets and more, human rights and corporate supply chains are once again in the limelight as the mining of minerals needed for our handheld devices have helped fuel conflict and bloodshed in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This episode looks at a recent Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rule requiring all companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges to disclose the origin of four key minerals—tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold. Found in most consumer electronic devices, as well as the aerospace, automotive and heavy manufacturing sectors, these minerals contribute to ongoing political violence, illegal trafficking and devastating human rights violations in the DRC.
To gain some perspective on this new rule and how it protects human rights and impacts companies and their supply chains, we spoke with Bennett Freeman from Calvert Investments, one of the lead investors on the SEC’s conflict minerals roundtable, and Andrew O’Donovan, the president of mineral mining company Global Advanced Metals Technologies.