Indirect Spend

Extending respect for workers' right and environmental sustainability to companies' indirect spend.

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Deborah Albers, Vice President

Using RBA standards and accountability tools, RBA member companies are well-equipped to assess and remedy environmental and social risks linked directly to people and facilities that manufacture electronics products. But supporting actual manufacturing operations are numerous service provider suppliers, whose services ranging 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 RBA members’ supply chain sustainability activities. How can RBA members ensure their supply chain sustainability activities don’t overlook the property managers, catering companies and call centers, to name a few, who help ensure the facility continues to run?

In response to this gap the RBA began in January 2014 a special taskforce focused on these service provider suppliers, who fall in a category often called “indirect spend” in supply chain management. 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 with these suppliers. Long-term, the group hopes to formalize expectations for RBA members in regards to management of social and environmental issues in their indirect supply chain, and to identify key support industries where the RBA can drive real social and environmental improvement across the entire industry.

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