Assume you are implementing Code of Conduct, Supply Chain Due Diligence, Questionnaires, Risk Analysis – the full programme, and your business partner feels threatened as you address all these human rights and environmental topics highly relevant to you but not to them. And on top of that, you want to carry out a local audit and maybe implement a whistleblowing tool which the employees or even the suppliers of your supplier can use. First, what tensions could transpire and, second, how can you defuse them?
There are several tensions that could arise if you address human rights and environmental topics with a supplier who feels threatened by your approach:
- Cultural differences: Your supplier may have a different set of values and a different business culture, and they may not prioritize human rights and environmental issues in the same way that you do. This can lead to misunderstandings and conflicting viewpoints.
- Fear of change: Your supplier may feel threatened by the changes you are proposing, such as the implementation of a local audit or a whistleblowing tool. They may be concerned about the cost and effort required to implement these changes, or they may be resistant to outside interference in their operations.
- Loss of control: Your supplier may feel that they are losing control over their operations and may be concerned about the potential consequences of the changes you are proposing.
To defuse these tensions, it is important to approach the situation with empathy and understanding. Here are a few steps you can take:
- Communicate clearly and openly: Clearly explain your rationale for addressing human rights and environmental issues and be open to hearing the supplier’s perspective.
- Emphasize mutual benefits: Highlight the mutual benefits of addressing these issues and explain how they can help to improve the supplier’s operations and financial performance.
- Offer support and resources: Offer to provide support and resources to help the supplier implement the changes you are proposing, such as training or access to information and best practices.
- Seek input and feedback: Engage the supplier in a dialogue and seek their input and feedback. This can help to build trust and ensure that any efforts to address human rights and environmental issues are perceived as collaborative and mutually beneficial.
If you address human rights and environmental issues with a supplier who feels intimidated by your approach, a number of conflicts may result. To defuse these tensions, it is essential to address the situation with empathy and compassion. Engage the supplier in conversation and solicit their ideas and comments. By doing so, you can build productive and mutually beneficial relationships with your supplier.