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Sustainability audits on suppliers operating in developing countries

07/21/2015 - 03:00 PM

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Telecom Italia, together with other important TLC operators, takes part in an initiative called Joint Audit Cooperation (JAC).

The Joint Audit Co-operation known in short as JAC is an industry initiative made up between telecom operators with the common objective of raising social, environmental and ethical standards within the ICT supply chain. The initiative aimes at checking, monitoring and improving the social, environmental and ethical performance of common supply chains of its members and demonstrates that industry can put aside its differences to raise supply chain standards for people and the wider environment.

 

 

JAC has been set up by Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom (now Orange) and Telecom Italia in January 2010 with the signature of a Memorandum of Understanding. By this agreement the first members have defined the audit process and tools that have started to implement in June 2010 during the first JAC campaign.
In the following years additional members have joined, enlarging the association to a total of 10 Telecom Operators (in alphabetical order): Belgacom (now Proximus), Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom, KPN, Swisscom, Telecom Italia, Telenor, TeliaSonera, Verizon, and Vodafone.

Telecom operators that wish to be part of JAC, should respond to the following prerequisites. A JAC member:

  • has a structured CSR sourcing department with experienced resources;
  • has signed or will sign a contract with a third party certified audit company specialized in on-site CSR audits at international level;
  • has a contract with supplier which is common at least with 2 JAC members;
  • accepts all terms of the JAC 2010 Memorandum of Understanding and related supplements;
  • accepts all Non Disclosure Agreement terms already signed between the JAC and the suppliers audited;
  • will support at its own cost the on-site audits that it will carry out on behalf of JAC.

No subscription costs are required for the time being.

 

 

The JAC process is basically a coordinated on-site audit program in the area of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) based on a common verification, assessment and development methodology, including follow up of corrective action plans. Each member has the responsibility, on behalf of the others, to lead a complete audit process at its costs to suppliers pre-identified in equal parts among the JAC members.

The on-site audit operations follow these guidelines :

  • preparation: knowledge of the plant to be audited;
  • skilled auditors: the audits are conducted by international audit companies, specialized in social and environmental issues in the plant country;
  • confidentiality: Non-Disclosure Agreements are signed with suppliers in order to restrict audit results to JAC members only;
  • methodology: check list defined by the JAC members based on the SA 8000 and ISO 14001 standards, and on-site audit with interviews;
  • report: describing the audit findings based on objective evidence;
  • cooperation with the suppliers: based on the reciprocal awareness of the CSR risk management as key factor for a responsible and sustainable development;
  • collaboration and development with the suppliers: based on the audit results, corrective action plans are defined with the suppliers to solve any gap highlighted in the audit report, which is followed up by each JAC members up to the full resolution.

The JAC Operational Board meet weekly to set the JAC audit agenda, validate audit reports and follow up on corrective action plans. These regular meetings reinforce the optimization of CSR assessments through the exchange of best practices to make the JAC initiative more effective.

Twice a year, the JAC Leadership Assembly, consisting of senior management representatives of the respective CSR and Sourcing departments, meet to verify the results of the audit campaign and take decisions on next steps.

JAC activities lead to cost and process optimization for both suppliers and telecom operators:

  • Suppliers will only receive one CSR audit request on behalf of all telecom operators.
  • Suppliers benefit from the adoption of one standard methodology during the overall audit process.
  • Telecom operators optimize CSR assessments and follow up process due to the exchange of best practices.

The JAC Supply Chain Sustainability Guidelines form the set of common requirements expected from the ICT industry; they were originally launched at the JAC Forum that was held in Chengdu, China, in January 2014.

The JAC Guidelines cover a range of topics developed by the telecom operators and in dialogue with a range of stakeholders and international laws, standards and guidelines. The sections within the topics define expectations on child labour, forced labour, fair remuneration, disciplinary practices, discrimination, freedom of association, health & safety, the environment and ethics. Members of the JAC initiative also shared their intention to develop and measure key performance indicators (KPI) to accompany the guidelines.

The Guidelines have recently been updated and a new version released in July 2015: JAC’s requirement on Responsible Sourcing of Minerals have been better clarified, and a set of environmental KPIs, that come together with some tools to enable organisations to calculate their energy consumption and carbon footprint, have been added. These new KPIs add to the existing ones on Working Hours and Fair Wages, and more are under development.