Robert Kuhn’s latest thoughts on human and labor rights issues vexing the supply chain were published in the June edition of the Governance + Accountability Institute’s newsletter, which reaches over 9.000 readers worldwide. Kuhn’s column focused primarily on the challenges that retail brands have in gaining transparency into far-flung supply chain and holding suppliers accountable for how they treat workers and community members.
In commenting on companies’ reaction to the recent deaths of workers in a Bangladesh garment factory, Kuhn noted that the current approach of written supplier “codes of conduct” and occasional factory audits appears to be broken. Kuhn cautioned at throwing money at the problem: little of this usually reaches the problem because of corruption, regulations and cultural concerns. Rather, Kuhn suggests that companies first establish a vision of a healthy supply base, engage more deeply with suppliers and their surrounding communities, form coalitions to solve root problems and take a more serious approach to corruption and bribery in the supply chain. While this work will take time, Kuhn notes, the payoff for retail brands is likely to be very large.