Supporting manufacturing operations are numerous service provider suppliers, whose services range from call centers and tech support to construction, property management and waste disposal. These suppliers are part of the manufacturing supply chain but may fall outside the scope of some supply chain sustainability activities. In 2014 the RBA created a special taskforce on these “indirect spend” service provider suppliers. The taskforce focuses on understanding key human rights, environmental and ethical risks associated with indirect spend suppliers and then developing special tools to assess, remedy and prevent future risks.
The group is currently working to map RBA members’ collective indirect supply chains, to identify shared suppliers where RBA can exert some influence in driving better social and environmental performance. After identifying key suppliers, the group plans to use a combination of current RBA assessment and audit tools along with awareness and engagement, and training and capacity-building, to help drive performance improvement. Long-term, the group hopes to formalize expectations for RBA members regarding management of social and environmental issues in their indirect supply chain, and to identify key support industries where the RBA can drive social and environmental improvement across the entire industry.