Ahead of the Responsible Sourcing and Supply Chain Compliance Conference, marcus evans spoke with Romi Lessig, Worldwide Procurement, Sustainability Program Manager at Dell, about Dell's partnerships with NGOs, the most common challenges in responsible sourcing, transparency and more.
When Dell decided to partner with NGOs and others to broaden your Responsible Sourcing efforts, how’d that conversation begin?
In 2004, Dell and other leading electronics companies joined forces and founded the Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition, a nonprofit organization with a common goal to improve efficiency and social, ethical, and environmental responsibility in the supply chain. Many of our suppliers supply components to multiple companies in the electronics industry, which is why it was important for all members to deploy an industry-wide approach to setting responsible manufacturing standards.
Many of our engagements over the years have been through the EICC, but we’ve also engaged NGO’s directly to get their different perspectives and find partners by region or issue. Some of our recent partnerships with NGOs include the Rural Education Action Program (REAP) helping student workers in China and joining the Responsible Raw Materials Initiative (RRMI), working to address responsible sourcing practices for metals and minerals in addition to those established for the 3TG (Tin, Tungsten, Tantalum, and Gold). We’ve also partnered with the Lonely Whale Foundation to harvest and up-cycle ocean-bound plastics into our product packaging.
If you could give solid advice for others in procurement looking to revamp their programs to become more socially responsible, what would it be?
A social and environmental responsibility program starts with internal alignment. At Dell, sustainability is part of our strategy and in 2012 we launched our 2020 Legacy of Good Plan outlining our commitment to reaching clear and measurable goals around sustainability and corporate social responsibility. There’s a great business case for sustainability for many industries, but successfully implementing it requires a cross-functional approach and commitment towards a common goal. Part of the work also includes educating internal stakeholders and procurement teams on the increasing sustainability expectations from customers – which frequently move faster and farther than government regulations. Companies that peg their sustainability efforts solely to meeting the minimum regulations are at risk of becoming increasingly uncompetitive over time. A proactive approach to supply chain social and environmental responsibility can help build trust with customers, develop suppliers, and mitigate risks.
What are some of the common challenges in responsible sourcing? And how do you see personal or team visions through to successful completion while facing those challenges?
Responsible sourcing requires shared values and partnership with suppliers. One of the main challenges in responsible sourcing is differing maturity levels in supplier’s SER programs. Thus, we work closely with our partners to develop their own capabilities and drive accountability, compliance, and transparency. For example, Dell has established an industry-leading sustainability supplier expectations manual, which outlines key sustainability requirements for suppliers. We offer suppliers capability building programs to develop their own SER programs, understanding of the EICC’s standards, and how to improve their audit performance. Additionally, we incorporate sustainability metrics in our supplier scorecard during Quarterly Business Reviews to drive accountability and compliance.
How do you forge lasting partnerships, and open communication with suppliers at Dell?
Be transparent and follow-up on your commitments. Deepen your relationships with partners that align with your values and goals, fostering a shared vision and cross-industry collaboration. For example, Dell, Apple, and Intel partnered last year to co-host an Executive Sustainability Roundtable in Taipei. Fifteen global companies attended the forum and joined the conversation to tackle key challenges and opportunities in the electronics supply chain. I look forward to sharing more about this at the Responsible Sourcing conference.
About the Speaker
Romi Lessig has been with Dell for 20 years, with the last 16 in WW Procurement. She has managed Commodity Managers, Supply Managers and Buyer/Planners across multiple global commodities. Based upon the good (and not so good) practices seen over the years in literally scores of factories, she decided 2 years ago to move into the Social Environmental Responsibility (SER) team to bring a supply chain perspective to the SER approach. Romi has a dual-role as program lead for the Commodity management Champions program as well as the Dell voice on several industry working groups focused on increasing SER performance and resilience globally. Romi particularly enjoys taking a capability building approach and working with commodity teams to assess and mitigate risks for workers and the environment.
On a personal note, Romi has been married to Todd for almost 30 years, with 2 sons, Matt and Luke who are almost launched. In her spare time, she likes to hike with her Labrador Roxxy, camp, travel and read (preferably under a tree).
About the Conference
We invite you to join Takeda Pharmaceuticals, TE Connectivity, Dell and others to discuss strategies in ethical sourcing and supply chain compliance. Attendees will discuss upcoming trends, examine the various existing and upcoming legislation, and have the hard conversation about social responsibility. This event will allow you to create actionable strategies to overcome quandaries, sustain compliance, and improve ethical and moral obligations.
For any questions regarding the 5th Responsible Sourcing and Supply Chain Compliance Conference, please contact:
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