IEH - Ethical Trading Initiative Norway

Commit Assess Adapt Collaborate Measuring, reporte, communicate

Adapt the company’s purchasing practices

Your company’s purchasing practices can have unintended negative effects on working conditions at production sites, and thus also on your ethical trade objectives. Last-minute design changes or shorter delivery deadlines can mean extremely long workdays at the production site. This means tired workers and an increased risk of workplace accidents.

As a member of IEH- Ethcial Trading Initiative Norway, you have access to advice and guidance, and a range of resources and tools in addition to those available on our open pages. IEH is an arena for network-building, and a meeting forum. IEH also offers courses and seminars, and capacity-building for your suppliers. Read more about the benefits of being a member in IEH.

How to proceed:

  1. Review your company’s purchasing practices
  2. Listen to your supplier
  3. Adjust your company’s purchasing practices

1. Review the company’s purchasing practices  

Review your routines for purchase planning, order placement and payments. Everyone who works directly with the supplier and has responsibility for areas such as purchasing, quality assurance, logistics, marketing, design and invoicing should be involved. Ask yourselves the following questions:

Is our planning good enough?
The longer your planning horizon, the easier it is for the supplier to produce your goods in a responsible manner.

Are we communicating clearly with our suppliers?
Clear communication reduces the risk of misunderstandings. This applies, for example, to communication about sample collections, product specifications, payment conditions, deadlines and volumes.

Do we pay on time?
Delayed payment or long payment deadlines may mean that workers don’t get paid on time.

2. Listen to your supplier

Once you have reviewed your own purchasing routines, it is useful to find out how your supplier perceives your company as a customer. You and your supplier have a shared interest in ensuring that production proceeds as smoothly and predictably as possible. It will therefore be both helpful and appropriate to talk about what your supplier sees as the greatest challenges in this context.

If you want your supplier to inform you of any problems that arise, you must show that you are willing to listen. Are there times of the year when it is difficult to handle large orders? Are there specific factor inputs or raw materials that are difficult to get hold of? Price and profit are sensitive topics; remember that the supplier’s ability to live up to your expectations with regard to decent working conditions is closely linked to the profitability of production.

3. Adjust your company’s purchasing practices

If the outcome of your own review and the discussion with your suppliers is that your purchasing practices need adjustments – now is the time to adapt. The aim is to have purchasing routines that further your ethical trade goals. In addition to changing your routines, it is important to:

  • Explain the reason for any changes to the workers so as to ensure that they understand why they are being made and are motivated to do things differently.
  • Inform the supplier that you are making changes. This shows that you are receptive to new suggestions.

Resources - Adapt:

Below is a selection of resources and tools related to adaption of your own purchase practice. A membership in IEH gives you access to more resources and tools in addition to ongoing counseling and follow-up in your work with ethical trade.

Do you need guidance? Become a member of IEH!

Do you need guidance? Become a member of IEH!

Would you like to know more about membership of IEH? Or perhaps you would like to arrange a non-binding meeting? Please contact us.

Guide: Ethical Trade

Guide: Ethical Trade

We have created this guide to show that ethical trading is feasible and produces results even for small and medium enterprises, and that it really is all about getting started.

Read more »