The Needlers Supply Chain Challenge

Our Values

Every day, workers in developing countries are subject to conditions that we simply would not tolerate here at home, it is completely unacceptable to us that any part of our supply chain is failing to meet the standards that we hold ourselves to. As members of the Supplier Ethical Data Exchange (Sedex), we adhere to the Ethical Trade Initiative (ETI) base code as well as a combination of our own values when it comes to our supply chain; here are some of the most important conditions that we require our supply chain partners to meet:

  • Workers must be free to choose their own employment; slavery and bonded labour are completely unacceptable.
  • Workers must have freedom of association and employers must respect the right to collective bargaining, every year workers around the world are fired or worse for attempting to unionise or improve working conditions.
  • The conditions that people work in must be safe and hygienic.
  • Our suppliers must not employ child labour, children should have access to education and resources to improve their lot in life, not be forced to work in order to support their families.
  • Employers should be paying a living wage, in many parts of the developing world if a family cannot be supported on the wages of adults their children may be forced to work instead of entering education.
  • Workers should not be forced to work excessive hours that are detrimental to their physical and mental health.
  • Employers must not practice discrimination in the workplace; in many places women and minorities have restricted access to employment or are subject to poorer standards of employment.
  • Workers must have access to regular employment and protections from unfair dismissal.
  • Workers must be treated fairly and humanely; physical, verbal or sexual abuse in the workplace is unacceptable.

“For us, this is about doing what’s right, not what’s necessary.”

Sedex Membership & Intertek Audits

Needlers are members of Sedex, a not-for-profit organisation that works with buyers and suppliers to deliver improvements in responsible and ethical business practices in global supply chain. We utilise their 2-Pillar SMETA Audits for our suppliers which looks at standards of labour, health and safety, universal rights, management systems, subcontracting and environmental concerns.

We work in partnership with Intertek who are a Sedex approved international auditor to carry out all of our SMETA audits on our overseas suppliers, Intertek have highly trained locally based auditors that know the local industries and can identify issues that other auditors might miss.

We also have annual BRC audits and regular meetings with suppliers carried out by our own team, our MD even regularly visits our international suppliers, that’s how important this issue is too us.

Our Supplier Relationships

Our relationships with our suppliers are very important to us, we acquire international suppliers on a recommendation basis and never spot-buy, it’s vital that we’re able to build a working relationship with suppliers that we can trust to share our own values.

Where we’ve identified issues in our supply chain either through auditing or during our own visits we’ll work closely with our suppliers to help them improve. After the discovery of a non-conformance, suppliers are given up to 2 years to ensure amendments are carried out and everything is brought up to standard.

We work with our suppliers throughout this period to assist them wherever we can, it’s not enough to just cut ties with a supplier if we’re going to properly address these issues, we feel we can do more by helping our suppliers to change than by simply leaving them to carry on as before.

Our Corporate Social Responsibility

The values that we hold in regards to our supply chain can be seen throughout every aspect of our business. We’re committed to conducting ourselves in a way that meets the same rigorous ethical, professional and legal standards that we hold our suppliers to. You can read more about this in our Corporate Social Responsibility document.

Supporting Documentation

All of our supplier audits are available to our customers directly from Intertek upon request, or can be accessed on our customer extranet when you log in HERE

What’s Next for Needlers?

We want to continue the work we’ve been doing to help our suppliers improve their standards, we feel that one of the best ways we can do that is to increase our SMETA audits from a 2-pillar to a 4-pillar audit that would also include an expanded examination of environmental impacts, we’re aiming to achieve this by 2020.

How Can We Make a Difference?

The problems facing workers in the developing world can’t be solved by one company alone, to really make a difference all of us need to be doing everything we can to ensure that our supply chains are ethical, here’s what you can do to help:

  • Question your suppliers about their own supply chain, don’t just assume everything is fine.
  • Ask your suppliers to provide documentation of the actions they take to ensure that the goods they produce or purchase are manufactured in an ethical way.
  • Avoid spot-buying, establishing a relationship with suppliers you can trust to uphold the same ethical standards that you do is the best course of action.
  • Joining Sedex or the ETI is a great way to gain more information and resources to ensure that your supply chain is ethical, insisting that your suppliers also belong to one of these organisations is an even better idea.

Are you willing to take on the challenge?