Tesco Plc ranked the highest in the first-ever study of supply-chain policies from humanitarian group Oxfam America released last week, leading in transparency and worker-treatment metrics. Still, it did so with ratings of 29 and 42, respectively, on a 100-point scale.
For U.S. grocers, Walmart came out on top, including the top overall score on policies toward women. Even then, it was only rated as 29 in that category. Whole Foods was the second-lowest rated U.S. grocer, earning scores of zero in transparency and treatment of women, and ratings of four out of 100 in policies toward workers and farmers. Kroger Co. ranked last.
“These are difficult issues for companies because they’re about who holds power, but the companies need to share power to keep their supply chains healthy,” said Irit Tamir, the director for the private-sector department of Boston-based Oxfam America, the U.S. arm of the U.K.-based human-rights advocacy group.
Oxfam’s ratings come as grocers face disruption from online shopping and consolidations such as the Amazon.com Inc.’s takeover of Whole Foods. Still, grocers’ share of the consumer food dollar has increased, which can give retailers a bigger say in how workers, farmers and women are treated, Tamir said. There’s the need for clear policies for which companies can be held accountable, she said.
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